OOIDA v. CARB: Ninth Court upholds district court dismissal

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 4/28/2017

OOIDA’s tenacious lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board added another chapter to its long chronicle in mid-April. OOIDA told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco that after being bounced from court to court, the case should move forward. The court’s opinion was quick, and a disappointment to truckers.

On April 19, OOIDA’s attorney told the federal court in San Francisco that the case was properly filed in district court (Dec. 6, 2013) and should have not been dismissed (Oct. 29, 2014). On April 26, the judges affirmed the 2014 ruling of the district court to dismiss the case.

The three-judge panel included Stephen Roy Reinhardt, A. Wallace Tashima and Donald W. Mollo. Daniel E. Cohen of the Cullen Law Firm represented OOIDA and truckers. Linda Gandara, California’s deputy attorney general, argued for CARB.

“This case involves the illegally and historically unprecedented attempt by CARB to require every truck in every state of the nation to install an $18,000 particulate filter in their trucks in order to cross the California border,” Cohen told the court. If not, truckers face costly fines. OOIDA alleges that the regulation violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

“Because of the constitutional dimension of this attempt by CARB to require every truck in the country to buy these filters just to come into California, it was incumbent upon the EPA to explain this, to discuss the policy implications of this somewhere, somehow in the SIP (state implementation plan) approval proceeding,” Cohen said. “It said nothing.”

Gandara argued for CARB that EPA did point out it was for “trucks operating in California,” indicating that OOIDA and truckers should have known that EPA meant all trucks in the nation doing business in California.

The embattled case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, in December 2013. After surviving multiple twists and legal turns, it ended up in the Ninth Circuit Court. 

At the April 19 court proceeding, the three judges seemed narrowly focused on the question of jurisdiction rather than the immense constitutional impact of the case. Cohen reiterated that it was impossible to properly file a complaint on an improper action by the EPA “when you don’t even know about it? When nothing was said?”

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston said CARB’s litigation strategy has been to escape review of its rules by arguing those cases do not belong in any of the courts OOIDA has filed in. 

Gandara’s argument in the Ninth Court in April was consistent with that strategy.

OOIDA and its attorneys are currently considering the Association’s next action opposing the CARB rule.

“OOIDA is evaluating its options in this case, including review by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Cohen told Land Line on Friday. “OOIDA members also have challenges pending in other courts and I remain optimistic that sooner or later, the merits of this case will be heard, and we will put an end to CARB's unconstitutional conduct.”

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