UNITED STEELWORKERS, LOCAL 12431 v. Skinner, Civ. A. No. 90-0299B.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
Citation768 F. Supp. 30
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 90-0299B.
PartiesUNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 12431; and Raymond Conroy, individually and in his capacity as President of Local 12431, Plaintiffs, v. Samuel SKINNER, individually and in his capacity as Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; James J. Malachowski, individually and in his capacity as Administrator of State of Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; and Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, Defendants.
Decision Date12 July 1991

768 F. Supp. 30

UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 12431; and Raymond Conroy, individually and in his capacity as President of Local 12431, Plaintiffs,
v.
Samuel SKINNER, individually and in his capacity as Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; James J. Malachowski, individually and in his capacity as Administrator of State of Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; and Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 90-0299B.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island.

July 12, 1991.


768 F. Supp. 31

Amato A. DeLuca, Mandell, Goodman, DeLuca & Schwartz, Providence, R.I., for plaintiffs.

Adrienne G. Southgate, Providence, R.I., for James J. Malachowski, Rhode Island Div. of Public Utilities and Carriers.

Everett C. Sammartino, Asst. U.S. Atty., Mary E. Goetten, Brian G. Kennedy, Dept. of Justice, Civ. Div., Washington, D.C., for Samuel Skinner.

OPINION AND ORDER

FRANCIS J. BOYLE, Chief Judge.

The issue in this action is whether, under the Constitution of the United States, persons whose duties relate to the safe operation and maintenance of natural gas pipelines may be subjected to random drug testing.

The drug testing regulations at issue require that the operators of natural gas pipelines or liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities implement random drug testing of employees who "perform ... an operating, maintenance or emergency response function". The regulations provide for the

768 F. Supp. 32
method and frequency of testing. 49 C.F.R. § 199.11(c) (1990). The method of analysis is specified and retesting in the event of a positive result is required upon an employee's request. 49 C.F.R. § 199.15-17 (1990). Records of test results are kept in confidence and may only be released upon written consent of an employee, except upon request as part of an accident investigation. 49 C.F.R. § 199.23 (1990). Employees who refuse to submit to random drug testing or who fail a test are subject to dismissal.1 49 C.F.R. § 199.9 (1990)

Plaintiff United Steelworkers of America, Local 12431, brings this action on behalf of its members. Plaintiff Raymond Conroy, the President of Local 12431, brings this action on his own behalf as an employee of Providence Gas Company, a company which is required to implement a drug testing program under the regulations. The defendants are Samuel Skinner, Secretary of Transportation and promulgator of the regulations and the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, an agency which instituted parallel state regulations.2

Federal Regulations

Plaintiffs complain that the federal regulations, on their face, are unconstitutional in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments' prohibitions of unreasonable searches and seizures. Defendants argue that the regulations are valid and assert three additional separate reasons why this action must fail: firstly, that jurisdiction of the issues raised by plaintiffs is available only in a Court of Appeals; secondly, that this action is time barred; and thirdly, that the issue has been determined contrary to plaintiffs' contentions by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a decision which is binding upon plaintiffs. See IBEW, Local 1245 v. Skinner, 913 F.2d 1454 (9th Cir.1990). For the reasons that follow, this Court finds that the complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The regulations at issue were adopted under the aegis of two statutes: the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act (NGPSA), 49 U.S.C.App. § 1671, et seq. (1988), and the Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Act (HLPSA), 49 U.S.C. App. § 2001, et seq. (1988). Each statute specifically provides that "any person who is or will be adversely affected or aggrieved by any regulation issued under this chapter ... may at any time prior to the 90th day after such regulation ... is issued file a petition for a judicial review with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia or for the circuit wherein such petitioner is located or has his principal place of business." 49 U.S.C. §§ 1675(a); 2005(a) (1988). The statutes further contain "saving clauses" declaring that the remedy provided is "in addition to and not in substitution for any other remedies provided by law." 49 U.S.C.App. §§ 1675(e); 2005(e) (1988).

It is settled law that "when Congress has specified a procedure for judicial review of administrative action, that procedure is the exclusive means of review unless, because of some extraordinary circumstances, the procedure fails to provide an adequate remedy." Independent Cosmetic Mfrs. and Distrib., Inc. v. HEW, 574 F.2d 553, 554 (D.C.Cir.), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 893, 99 S.Ct. 250, 58 L.Ed.2d 238 (1978); see Cousins v. Secretary of the DOT, 880 F.2d 603, 611-12 (1st Cir.1989). Despite this, plaintiffs argue that the "saving clauses" of the statutes are intended to provide concurrent review in district courts and courts of appeals. Plaintiffs' argument fails because it ignores the primary purpose of judicial review statutes, which is to provide a "more

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expeditious method of review than an action in district court." Cousins, 880 F.2d at 611

Congress was aware that a review of the regulations would be based upon an already established administrative record. Whether an action would be brought before a Court of Appeals or before this Court the issue is whether the regulations are reasonable within the requirements of the authorizing statute and the Constitution. Rather than abide the natural and necessary delay while the issues progress through three judicial levels: District Court, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court, the statutory method of review presents the issues promptly before a Court of Appeals. If district courts were accorded concurrent jurisdiction, the purpose behind judicial review statutes would be undermined. Cf. Standard Forge & Axle Co. v. Coleman, 551 F.2d 1268, 1270 (D.C.Cir.) (affirming dismissal for lack of subject matter...

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1 practice notes
  • Stutler v. Marathon Pipeline Co., No. IP 97-1928 C B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • 20 Marzo 1998
    ...Bd., Utilities Division, Dept. of Commerce, 999 F.2d 354, 357-59 (8th Cir.1993); United Steelworkers of America, Local 12431 v. Skinner, 768 F.Supp. 30, 35 7. The instant case also involves complete preemption, not simply a preemption defense. --------------- ...
1 cases
  • Stutler v. Marathon Pipeline Co., No. IP 97-1928 C B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • 20 Marzo 1998
    ...Bd., Utilities Division, Dept. of Commerce, 999 F.2d 354, 357-59 (8th Cir.1993); United Steelworkers of America, Local 12431 v. Skinner, 768 F.Supp. 30, 35 7. The instant case also involves complete preemption, not simply a preemption defense. --------------- ...

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