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«Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

OCTOBER TERM, 2012 1

(Slip Opinion)

Syllabus

NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is

being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.

The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been

prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.

See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus DAN’S CITY USED CARS, INC., DBA DAN’S CITY AUTO BODY v. PELKEY

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

No. 12–52. Argued March 20, 2013—Decided May 13, 2013 The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) preempts state laws “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier... with respect to the transportation of property.” 49 U. S. C. §14501(c)(1). This provision borrows from the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), which preempts state laws “related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier,” §41713(b)(1), but it adds the important qualification, “with respect to transportation of property.” Plaintiff-respondent Pelkey brought suit in New Hampshire Superior Court, alleging that defendant-petitioner Dan’s City Used Cars (Dan’s City), a towing company, took custody of his car after towing it from his landlord’s parking lot without Pelkey’s knowledge, failed to notify him of its plan to auction the car, held an auction despite Pelkey’s notice that he wanted to reclaim the car, and eventually traded the car away without compensating Pelkey for the loss of his vehicle. In disposing of his car, Pelkey further alleged, Dan’s City did not meet the requirements contained in chapter 262 of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated, which regulates the disposal of abandoned vehicles by a “storage company.” Dan’s City’s misconduct, Pelkey charged, both violated New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act and breached the towing company’s statutory and common-law duties as a bailee to use reasonable care while in possession of a bailor’s property. The court granted summary judgment to Dan’s City, concluding that the FAAAA preempted Pelkey’s claims. The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed. It held the FAAAA’s preemption clause inapplicable because Pelkey’s claims related to Dan’s City’s conduct in disposing of his car post-storage, not to conduct concerning “the transportation of property,” or a towing company’s “service.” 2 DAN’S CITY USED CARS, INC. v. PELKEY Syllabus Held: Section 14501(c)(1) does not preempt state-law claims stemming from the storage and disposal of a towed vehicle. Pp. 7–13.

(a) Where Congress has superseded state legislation by statute, this Court’s task is to “identify the domain expressly pre-empted,” Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U. S. 525, 541, focusing first on the statutory language, CSX Transp., Inc. v. Easterwood, 507 U. S.

658, 664. In Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transp. Assn., 552 U. S.

364, 370, this Court’s reading of §14501(c)(1) was informed by decisions interpreting parallel language in the ADA’s preemption clause.

Thus, the Court held, the phrase “related to” embraces state laws “having a connection with or reference to” carrier “ ‘rates, routes, or services,’ ” whether directly or indirectly. Ibid. At the same time, the breadth of the words “related to” does not mean that the preemption clause should be read with an “uncritical literalism.” New York State Conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers Ins. Co., 514 U. S. 645, 655–656. The Court has cautioned that §14501(c)(1) does not preempt state laws affecting carrier prices, routes, and services “in only a ‘tenuous, remote, or peripheral... manner.’ ” Rowe, 552 U. S., at 371. Pp. 7–8.

(b) Pelkey’s state-law claims escape preemption because they are “related to” neither the “transportation of property” nor the “service” of a motor carrier. Although §14501(c)(1) otherwise tracks the ADA’s air-carrier preemption provision, the FAAAA formulation’s one conspicuous alteration—addition of the words “with respect to the transportation of property”—significantly limits the FAAAA’s preemptive scope. It is not sufficient for a state law to relate to the “price, route, or service” of a motor carrier in any capacity; the law must also concern a motor carrier’s “transportation of property.” Title 49 defines “transportation,” in relevant part, as “services related to th[e] movement” of property, “including arranging for... storage [and] handling.” §13102(23)(B). Pelkey’s Consumer Protection Act and negligence claims are not “related to th[e] movement” of his car. Chapter 262 regulates the disposal of vehicles once their transportation— here, by towing—has ended. Pelkey seeks redress only for conduct occurring after the car ceased moving and was stored. Dan’s City maintains that because §13102(23)(B)’s definition of “transportation” includes “storage” and “handling,” Pelkey’s claims fall within §14501(c)(1)’s preemptive ambit. But “storage” and “handling” fit within §13102(23)(B)’s definition only when those services “relat[e] to th[e] movement” of property. Thus temporary storage of an item in transit en route to its final destination qualifies as “transportation,” but permanent storage does not. Here, no storage occurred in the course of transporting Pelkey’s vehicle.





Pelkey’s claims are also unrelated to a “service” a motor carrier Cite as: 569 U. S. ____ (2013) 3

Syllabus

renders its customers. The transportation service Dan’s City provided—removal of Pelkey’s car from his landlord’s parking lot—did involve the movement of property, but that service ended months before the conduct on which Pelkey’s claims are based. Because chapter 262, on which Pelkey relies, addresses “storage compan[ies]” and “garage owner[s] or keeper[s],” not transportation activities, it has neither a direct nor an indirect connection to transportation services a motor carrier offers its customers. See Rowe, 552 U. S., at 371.

The conclusion that state-law claims regarding disposal of towed vehicles are not preempted is in full accord with Congress’ purpose in enacting §14501(c)(1), which was to displace “a State’s direct substitution of its own governmental commands for ‘competitive market forces’ in determining... the services that motor carriers will provide.” Id., at 372. The New Hampshire prescriptions Pelkey invokes hardly constrain participation in interstate commerce by requiring a motor carrier to offer services not available in the market. Nor do they “freez[e] into place services that carriers might prefer to discontinue in the future.” Ibid. Pp. 8–11.

(c) Dan’s City’s additional arguments in favor of preemption are not persuasive. Dan’s City contends that because none of Pelkey’s claims fit within the exceptions to preemption detailed in 49 U. S. C.

§§14501(c)(2), (3), and (5), his claims must be preempted. But exceptions, while sometimes a helpful interpretive guide, do not in themselves delineate the scope of the rule. Here, the exceptions identify matters a State may regulate when it would otherwise be precluded from doing so, but they do not control more than that.

Dan’s City also maintains that Pelkey’s claims are “related to” its towing service because selling Pelkey’s car was the means by which Dan’s City obtained payment for the tow. If such state-law claims were preempted, no law would govern resolution of a non-contractbased dispute arising from a towing company’s disposal of a vehicle previously towed or afford a remedy for wrongful disposal. No such design can be attributed to a rational Congress. See Silkwood v.

Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U. S. 238, 251. Pp. 11–13.

163 N. H. 483, 44 A. 3d 480, affirmed.

–  –  –

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

–  –  –

JUSTICE GINSBURG delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case concerns the preemptive scope of a provision of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act

of 1994 (FAAAA or Act) applicable to motor carriers. Codified at 49 U. S. C. §14501(c)(1), the provision reads:

“[A] State... may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier... with respect to the transportation of property.” Plaintiff-respondent Robert Pelkey brought suit under New Hampshire law against defendant-petitioner Dan’s City Used Cars (Dan’s City), a towing company. Pelkey alleged that Dan’s City took custody of his car after towing it without Pelkey’s knowledge, failed to notify him of its plan to auction the car, held an auction despite Pelkey’s communication that he wanted to arrange for the car’s return, and eventually traded the car away without compensating Pelkey for the loss of his vehicle.

Disposal of abandoned vehicles by a “storage company” is regulated by chapter 262 of the New Hampshire Revised 2 DAN’S CITY USED CARS, INC. v. PELKEY

Opinion of the Court

Statutes Annotated. See N. H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§262:31 to 262:40–c (West 2004 and 2012 West Cum. Supp.). Dan’s City relied on those laws to dispose of Pelkey’s vehicle for nonpayment of towing and storage fees. According to Pelkey, however, Dan’s City failed to comply with New Hampshire’s provisions governing the sale of stored vehicles and the application of sale proceeds. Pelkey charged that Dan’s City’s disposal of his car without following the requirements contained in chapter 262 violated the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act, §358–A:2 (West 2009), as well as Dan’s City’s statutory and common-law duties as bailee to exercise reasonable care while in possession of a bailor’s property.

We hold, in accord with the New Hampshire Supreme Court, that state-law claims stemming from the storage and disposal of a car, once towing has ended, are not sufficiently connected to a motor carrier’s service with respect to the transportation of property to warrant preemption under §14501(c)(1). The New Hampshire law in point regulates no towing services, no carriage of property. Instead, it trains on custodians of stored vehicles seeking to sell them. Congress did not displace the State’s regulation of that activity by any federal prescription.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), 92 Stat.

1705, largely deregulated the domestic airline industry.

In keeping with the statute’s aim to achieve “maximum reliance on competitive market forces,” id., at 1706, Congress sought to “ensure that the States would not undo federal deregulation with regulation of their own.” Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U. S. 374, 378 (1992). Congress therefore included a preemption provision, now codified at 49 U. S. C. §41713(b)(1), prohibiting States from enacting or enforcing any law “related to a Cite as: 569 U. S. ____ (2013) 3

Opinion of the Court

price, route, or service of an air carrier.” Two years later, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, 94 Stat. 793, extended deregulation to the trucking industry.

Congress completed the deregulation 14 years thereafter, in 1994, by expressly preempting state trucking regulation. Congress did so upon finding that state governance of intrastate transportation of property had become “unreasonably burden[some]” to “free trade, interstate commerce, and American consumers.” Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Service, Inc., 536 U. S. 424, 440 (2002) (citing FAAAA §601(a)(1), 108 Stat. 1605). Borrowing from the ADA’s preemption clause, but adding a new qualification, §601(c) of the FAAAA supersedes state laws “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier... with respect to the transportation of property.” 108 Stat. 1606, now codified at 49 U. S. C. §14501(c)(1) (emphasis added).1 The Act exempts certain measures from its preemptive scope, including state laws regulating motor vehicle safety, size, and weight; motor carrier insurance; and the intrastate transportation of household goods. §§14501(c)(2)(A)–(B). Also exempted from preemption are state laws “relating to the price” of “vehicle transportation by a tow truck,” if towing occurs without prior consent of the vehicle owner. §14501(c)(2)(C).

This case involves the interaction between the FAAAA’s preemption clause and the State of New Hampshire’s regulation of the removal, storage, and disposal of abandoned motor vehicles. Chapter 262 of the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated establishes procedures by —————— 1 The term “motor carrier” is defined as “a person providing motor vehicle transportation for compensation.” 49 U. S. C. §13102(14) (2006 ed., Supp. V). We have previously recognized that tow trucks qualify as “motor carriers” under §14501(c)(1). Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Service, Inc., 536 U. S. 424, 430 (2002). Dan’s City’s qualification as a motor carrier under the FAAAA is uncontested by the parties.

See Brief for Petitioner i; Brief for Respondent 18.

4 DAN’S CITY USED CARS, INC. v. PELKEY

Opinion of the Court



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