California Tow Truck v. City of San Francisco

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 08-27-2012
  • Case #: 11-15040
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Seabright for the Court; Circuit Judges Fisher and Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

When preemption is claimed to a comprehensive law, the court must look at each individual provision and not at the law as a whole.

The city and county of San Francisco requires tow truck drivers and businesses to obtain permits to operate and conduct business within San Francisco. The California Tow Truck Association (“CTTA”) brought this action to invalidate the permit requirements arguing that Articles 30 and 30.1 of the San Francisco Police Code (“permit system”) are preempted by federal law 49 U.S.C. 14501(c)(1). The district court upheld the requirements for nonconsensual towing but enjoined enforcement against exclusively consensual towing and drivers passing through. The district court addressed the permit systems as a whole rather than each individual provision. The Ninth Circuit notes that 49 U.S.C. 1501(c)(1) preempts state and local laws that are related to a price, route, or service of a motor carrier. The safety exception, however, “permits laws related to the safety regulatory authority of a state with respect to motor vehicles.” The safety exception applies only if a two part test is met: (1) the safety relating to motor vehicles was a concern and (2 if the regulation responds sufficiently to the concern. When preemption is claimed to a comprehensive law, the court must look at each individual provision and not at the law as a whole. If one provision is preempted, it does not follow that the whole scheme is preempted. The severance provisions in the permit system allow a particular provision to be severed if it would not affect the Permit System as a whole. The court also found that the CTTA lacked standing in regard to tow truck drivers passing through. VACATED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search