Cramer v. Skinner

Decision Date09 May 1991
Docket NumberNo. 90-1303,90-1303
Citation931 F.2d 1020
PartiesBuddy CRAMER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Samuel K. SKINNER, as Secretary of Transportation, et al., Defendants-Appellees, and Safe Airspace for Everyone, et al., Intervening Defendants, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

David J. Gallo, Dallas, Tex., for plaintiff-appellant.

Brownell K. Boothe, America West Airlines, Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., for amicus curiae--America West Airlines, Inc.

Phillip Brady, Thomas L. Ray, U.S. Dept. of Transp., Office of General Counsel, Washington, D.C., Myrna B. Silen, Asst. U.S. Atty., Marvin Collins, U.S. Atty., Dallas, Tex., for Skinner, et al.

Leslie T. Thornton, Abbe David Lowell, Brand & Lowell, Washington, D.C., for S.A.F.E., et al.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before GOLDBERG, KING, and DUHE, Circuit Judges.

KING, Circuit Judge:

The plaintiff-appellant Buddy Cramer (Cramer) asserts that the International Air Transportation Competition Act of 1979, Pub.L. No. 96-192, Sec. 29, 94 Stat. 35 (1980) (Love Field amendment), which restricts interstate air service from Love Field Airport (Love Field) in Dallas, Texas, abridges his constitutional rights of free speech and interstate travel. The defendants in this case, the individuals and agencies charged with enforcing the Love Field amendment (the Government), moved the district court for dismissal or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. They alleged that Cramer lacks standing to attack the statute, or that if Cramer has standing, he cannot succeed on the merits. Cramer opposed the Government's motion and filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. The district court granted the Government's motion and entered a take-nothing judgment against Cramer. The district court agreed with the Government that Cramer lacks standing to challenge the Love Field amendment. Because the district court found that the case did not present a justiciable case or controversy, it did not reach the merits of Cramer's claims. We find that Cramer has standing to challenge the Love Field amendment and vacate the district court's judgment based on Cramer's found lack of standing (which must necessarily have been without prejudice). Cramer, however, also appeals from the district court's denial of his cross-motion for summary judgment. We affirm the district court's denial of Cramer's cross-motion for summary judgment on the merits. 1


Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth, Texas fought long and bitterly over which city should have the principal airport for the two-city metropolitan area. See City of Dallas, Texas v. Southwest Airlines Co., 371 F.Supp. 1015, 1019 (N.D.Tex.1973) (rejecting request by cities and regional airport board for declaratory judgment stating that they could exclude Southwest Airlines from operating from Love Field), aff'd, 494 F.2d 773, cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1079, 95 S.Ct. 668, 42 L.Ed.2d 674 (1974). Love Field, built by Dallas, competed with Fort Worth's airports. As the district court in City of Dallas found, this rivalry "resulted in unnecessary expense to the carriers as well as the taxpayers and inadequate and incomplete air service to both cities." Id. at 1020. In the late 1960s, the two cities settled their dispute by building Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). As part of that compromise, the eight airlines then serving the area agreed to move to DFW.

Southwest Airlines (Southwest), which began providing intrastate flights from Love Field in 1971, refused to move to DFW, however, and obtained a judgment that it could not be excluded from using Love Field as long as Love Field remained open. Id. For several years thereafter, Southwest operated flights from Love Field to locations within Texas. Because it operated from Love Field only intrastate, Southwest was exempt from the regulations that governed interstate airline operations under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, 49 U.S.C. Sec. 1301 et seq. When Congress deregulated the airlines, however, Southwest obtained authority from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to operate flights from Love Field to New Orleans. In so doing, CAB rejected the argument of Dallas and Fort Worth and the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport Board that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (Deregulation Act), Pub.L. No. 95-504, 92 Stat. 1705, included a provision specifically intended to bar CAB from authorizing interstate air service at such an airport over the objections of the local airport proprietor.

Congress reacted to CAB's decision by adopting the Love Field amendment as part of legislation further deregulating the airline industry. See International Air Transportation Competition Act of 1979, Sec. 29, Pub.L. No. 96-192, 94 Stat. 35, 48-49 (1980). In essence, the Love Field amendment, which applies only to Love Field, prohibits airlines from offering single ticket interstate service from Love Field except to the four states contiguous to Texas (the Love Field service area).

Although this amendment restricts airline services at Love Field, a traveler can obtain unrestricted airline services at DFW, located 18 miles from the center of Dallas and only 12 miles from Love Field. Travelers also can use Love Field to reach points outside the Love Field service area by taking a second flight. Such travelers must buy a separate ticket for each leg of the trip, however, and cannot check their baggage for the entire journey. The Love Field amendment also prohibits airlines from advertising or volunteering information on service outside the Love Field service area. It does not prohibit an airline, however, from providing such information on request. Southwest continues to provide interstate service at Love Field subject to these statutory restrictions. No other carrier now operates flights to Love Field with large aircraft, although three carriers made attempts. 2

On April 21, 1989, Cramer filed suit in federal district court, alleging that the Love Field amendment violates his rights to free speech and interstate travel. Cramer's second amended complaint sought a judgment declaring the statute unconstitutional, enjoining the defendants from enforcing the statute, and awarding him $100 as compensatory or nominal damages. The defendants are the United States of America, Samuel K. Skinner in his capacity as Secretary of Transportation, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), John V. Coleman in his capacity as Director of DOT's Office of Aviation Analysis, and the Office of Aviation Analysis. The individual defendants in their official capacity, DOT, and DOT's Office of Aviation Analysis enforce the Love Field amendment.

On June 20, 1989, the Government filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. On July 7, 1989, Cramer filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. On April 11, 1990, the district court entered a memorandum order dismissing the complaint because Cramer failed to demonstrate standing to challenge the Love Field amendment. The court held that the Love Field amendment's restrictions on advertising had not injured Cramer because he could obtain information on service beyond the Love Field service area on request. The district court did not question that Cramer's right to interstate travel had been injured, but reasoned that Cramer failed to show that a favorable judgment was likely to redress that injury. Because the district court dismissed Cramer's complaint for lack of standing, it did not rule on the constitutional issues presented by the cross-motions for summary judgment. Cramer filed a timely notice of appeal.

A. Standing
1. Standard of review

"Article III of the Constitution limits the 'judicial power' of the United States to the resolution of 'cases' and 'controversies.' " Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471, 102 S.Ct. 752, 757, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982). The Supreme Court has inferred from the case or controversy requirement that a litigant must have "standing" to maintain an action in federal court. In order for a litigant to establish standing, article III, at a minimum, requires the litigant to show:

that he personally has suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the defendant ...

that the injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action" and

[that the injury] "is likely to be redressed by a favorable decision."

Id. at 472, 102 S.Ct. at 758 (quoting Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 38, 41, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 1924, 1925, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976) (citation omitted); see also Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 499, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2205, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). In addition, the Supreme Court has stated that a court should consider three prudential concerns in determining standing. See Valley Forge Christian College, 454 U.S. at 471, 102 S.Ct. at 757; Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 99-100, 99 S.Ct. 1601, 1607-08, 60 L.Ed.2d 66 (1979). Those considerations are:

1) whether the plaintiff's complaint falls within the zone of interests protected by the statute or constitutional provision at issue;

2) whether the complaint raises abstract questions amounting to generalized grievances which are more appropriately resolved by the legislative branches; and

3) whether the plaintiff is asserting his or her own legal rights and interests rather than the legal rights and interests of third parties.

Saladin v. City of Milledgeville, 812 F.2d 687, 690 (11th Cir.1987) (citing Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751, 104 S.Ct. 3315 3324, 82 L.Ed.2d 556 (1984); Valley Forge Christian College, 454 U.S. at 474-75, 102 S.Ct. at 759-60; Gladstone, Realtors, 441 U.S. at 100, 99 S.Ct. at 1608).

Different standards apply when a litigant challenges standing on a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b) motion than...

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