Aux Sable Liquid Products v. Murphy

Decision Date19 May 2008
Docket NumberNo. 07-1402.,07-1402.
Citation526 F.3d 1028
PartiesAUX SABLE LIQUID PRODUCTS, a Delaware Limited Liability Company, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Kenneth MURPHY, Individually and as Monee Township Highway Commissioner, Monee Township, and Monee Township Highway Department, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Christian G. Spesia (argued), Spesia, Ayers & Ardaugh, Joliet, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

John M. Izzo (argued), Hauser, Izzo, Detella & Petrarca, Flossmoor, IL, for Defendants-Appellants.

Before FLAUM, EVANS, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

This case concerns to what degree the Surface Transportation Assistance Act ("STAA"), which governs access to and from the federal Interstate system, preempts local weight restrictions on bordering roads. Since 2001, loaded trucks leaving a propane loading facility ("the Terminal") owned by Plaintiff Aux Sable Liquid Products reached Interstate 57 ("I-57") via Ridgeland Avenue in Monee Township, Illinois. In 2006, the Monee Township Highway Commissioner, in order to protect Ridgeland Avenue from damage, limited the truck weight on the road to 14 tons, a weight less than that of an unloaded propane truck. Aux Sable then brought suit seeking injunctive relief under the STAA, as codified at 49 U.S.C. § 31114, and under the Illinois Vehicle Code, 625 Ill. COMP. STAT. 5/15 et seq., against Defendants Kenneth Murphy (the Monee Township Highway Commissioner), Monee Township, and the Monee Township Highway Department. Aux Sable also claimed that Defendants should be estopped from changing the weight limits on the road. The district court granted Aux Sable's motion for a preliminary injunction and later granted Aux Sable's motion for summary judgment, finding that the STAA preempted the local weight restrictions placed on Ridgeland Avenue. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

I. Background

Plaintiff Aux Sable Liquid Products is the beneficial owner of a propane loading terminal located at the southeast corner of West Steger Road and South Ridgeland Avenue in Monee Township, Will County, Illinois. See Mapquest, Maps, http://www.mapquest.com/maps/23313 + S + Ridgeland + Ave + Monee + IL + 60449-9293/ (last visited April 28, 2008). The Terminal was constructed in 2000 and began operating in October 2001, and from the outset, Aux Sable devoted attention to how the propane trucks coming to and from the Terminal would access I-57, which runs north and south just east of the Terminal. One route from the Terminal to I-57 is to exit the Terminal onto Steger Road and reach I-57 via the Sauk Trail Road interchange north of the Terminal. A slightly longer route, but still within five miles of I-57, is to leave the Terminal on Ridgeland Avenue proceeding south, entering I-57 on the Monee Manhattan Road interchange. Which route the propane trucks would take, however, depended upon weight restrictions on the roads, since unloaded propane trucks weigh approximately 39,000 pounds, and when fully loaded, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, the maximum vehicle gross weight permitted on the Interstate system. 23 C.F.R. § 658.17(b). Interstate access via the first route was restricted due to weight limits enforced by Cook County on Steger Road, where loads up to 80,000 were not permitted unless each truck applied for and received a permit for each trip. With respect to the second route, Aux Sable maintains that in June 2000, then Monee Township Highway Commissioner Wayne Stessen signed a Resolution permitting trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds to use Ridgeland Avenue. Although Defendants contest the validity of this Resolution, Aux Sable claims that the Terminal was designed with the understanding that unloaded trucks could enter from Steger Road while loaded trucks could exit onto Ridgeland Avenue. Once the Terminal began operating in October 2001, this is in fact what occurred, with loaded trucks leaving the Terminal onto Ridgeland Avenue and entering I-57 via the Monee Manhattan Road interchange.

Truck traffic between the Terminal and I-57 continued in this manner until Ken Murphy became the new Monee Township Highway Commissioner in 2005. In the fall of that year, Murphy informed Aux Sable that he intended to restrict truck traffic on Ridgeland Avenue due to damage the trucks were causing to the road. Then, in February 2006, signs that had been posted in 2004 designating Ridgeland Avenue as a Class II truck route (which under 625 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/15-111(f) permits loads up to 80,000 pounds) were replaced with signs limiting the truck weight on Ridgeland Avenue to 14 tons. On March 1, Murphy himself instructed the driver of a propane truck on Ridgeland Avenue of the weight limit on the road.

These events spurred Aux Sable to take legal action. On March 3, 2006, Aux Sable brought suit in the Circuit Court for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. The suit, which sought injunctive relief, claimed that the weight restriction on Ridgeland Avenue was preempted by the STAA, 49 U.S.C. § 31114, and violated the Illinois Vehicle Code, 625 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/15 et seq. Aux Sable also claimed that Defendants should be estopped from changing the weight limits on Ridgeland Avenue since the Terminal was allegedly constructed with the understanding that loaded trucks would be able to exit onto that road. Four days later, Defendants Kenneth Murphy, Monee Township, and the Monee Township Highway Department removed the case to the Northern District of Illinois under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, since the preemption issue concerning the STAA gave rise to federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The district court then granted Aux Sable's motion for a preliminary injunction on March 14, and the parties subsequently filed cross-motions for summary judgment. On December 20, 2006, the district court ruled on these motions, finding that the weight restriction was preempted by the STAA. Based on this finding, the district court enjoined Defendants from prohibiting the Terminal's truck traffic and found it unnecessary to address Aux Sable's estoppel claim or argument that Defendants had violated the Illinois Vehicle Code. Defendants then brought a motion to amend the judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), arguing that the district court's ruling made the State of Illinois a necessary party to the suit. The district court denied this motion, after which Defendants appealed the district court's summary judgment decision to this Court.

II. Analysis

On appeal, Defendants challenge the district court's grant of summary judgment for Aux Sable on the preemption issue, as well as the district court's denial of summary judgment in Defendants' favor with respect to Aux Sable's claim under the Illinois Vehicle Code and Aux Sable's estoppel argument. This Court reviews a district court's ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment de novo. Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Johnson, 297 F.3d 558, 561 (7th Cir.2002). Summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "With cross-motions, our review of the record requires that we construe all inferences in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made." Hess v. Reg-Ellen Mach. Tool Corp., 423 F.3d 653, 658 (7th Cir.2005) (quoting Tegtmeier v. Midwest Operating Eng'rs Pension Trust Fund, 390 F.3d 1040, 1045 (7th Cir.2004)). Thus, with respect to the preemption claim, all inferences will be construed in favor of Defendants, while for the other two claims, all inferences will be drawn in favor of Aux Sable.

We first turn to the question of whether the local weight restriction on Ridgeland Avenue is preempted by the STAA pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the Constitution. Under the Supremacy Clause, "state laws that `interfere with, or are contrary to the laws of congress, made in pursuance of the constitution' are invalid." Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U.S. 597, 604 111 S.Ct. 2476, 115 L.Ed.2d 532 (1991) (quoting Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 22 U.S. 1, 6 L.Ed. 23 (1824)). The federal law at issue in this case, the STAA, governs, among other things, access to and from the national Interstate system. 49 U.S.C. § 31114. The relevant text of the statute provides:

(a) Prohibition on denying access. A State may not enact or enforce a law denying to a commercial motor vehicle subject to this subchapter [49 U.S.C.S. §§ 31111 et seq.] or subchapter I of this chapter [49 U.S.C.S. §§ 31101 et seq.] reasonable access between—

(1) the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways . . .; and

terminals, facilities for food, fuel, repairs, and rest, and points of loading and unloading for household goods carriers, motor carriers of passengers, or any truck tractor-semitrailer combination in which the semitrailer has a length of not more than 28.5 feet and that generally operates as part of a vehicle combination described in section 31111(c) of this title [49 U.S.C.S. § 31111(c)].

(b) Exception. This section does not prevent a State or local government from imposing reasonable restrictions, based on safety considerations, on a truck tractor-semitrailer combination in which the semitrailer has a length of not more than 28.5 feet and that generally operates as part of a vehicle combination described in section 31111(c) of this title [49 U.S.C.S. § 31111(c)].

Id. The law thus guarantees commercial motor vehicles1 "reasonable access," free from State interference, between the Interstate and terminals,2 although state and local governments can place "reasonable restrictions, based on safety considerations," on certain truck tractor-semitrailer combinations. 49 U.S.C. § 31114. The question then is whether § 31114, which cabins...

To continue reading

Request your trial
47 cases
  • Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency v. City of Chi.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • 23 Agosto 2013
    ...Transportation Assistance Act, 49 U.S.C. § 31114, which is limited to “States,” expressly preempts “local governments.” 526 F.3d 1028, 1033–34 n. 3 (7th Cir.2008). 16. FHFA's reliance on American Trucking, 133 S.Ct. 2096, R. 77 at 94, is also misplaced. The federal statute at issue in Ameri......
  • Wisconsin Cent., Ltd. v. Shannon
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • 26 Agosto 2008
    ...comes to this Court from cross-motions for summary judgment, we review the district court's findings de novo, Aux Sable Liquid Prods. v. Murphy, 526 F.3d 1028, 1032 (7th Cir. 2008). As with any summary judgment motion, this Court reviews these cross-motions "construing all facts, and drawin......
  • Bank of Am., N.A. v. Shelbourne Dev. Group, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • 18 Agosto 2010
    ...a federal law," id., comes in three forms: "express preemption, field preemption, and conflict preemption" Aux Sable Liquid Prods. v. Murphy, 526 F.3d 1028, 1033 (7th Cir.2008)."Express preemption occurs when a federal statute explicitly states that it overrides state or local law." As for ......
  • The Mason v. Steudle
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan
    • 13 Enero 2011
    ...in which state and local governments may restrict commercial vehicles' access to and from the Interstate.” Aux Sable Liquid Prods. v. Murphy, 526 F.3d 1028, 1032–33 (7th Cir.2008) (footnotes omitted). The Act also “seeks to increase construction and safety on the interstate and national hig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Litigating Consumer Protection Acts in the Hamp Context
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 38-02, December 2014
    • Invalid date
    ...Loan Servicing, LLC, 784 F. Supp. 2d 100, 103 (D. Mass. 2011). 197. Wigod, 673 F.3d at 576 (quoting Aux Sable Liquid Prods. v. Murphy, 526 F.3d 1028, 1033 (7th Cir. 2008)). 198. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, 12 U.S.C. §§ 5201-53 (2008). 199. Olivares, 2011 WL 4860167, at *4.......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT