OOIDA to appeal dismissal of Pennsylvania toll lawsuit

May 2019

Tyson Fisher

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says it will appeal the dismissal of its lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania over its tolling authority on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

On April 4, U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane granted the state’s and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s motion to dismiss while simultaneously denying OOIDA’s motion for partial summary judgment.

OOIDA plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“This lawsuit is far from over,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “And, win or lose on appeal, the turnpike’s debt crisis and the commonwealth’s transportation emergency aren’t going away either.”

In its lawsuit, OOIDA argued that legislation passed to establish tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Act 44/89, violates both the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the constitutional right to travel. However, defendants, which include the governor, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and state secretary of transportation, argued that OOIDA failed to state a claim. The district court agreed with the defendants.

OOIDA argued it has, in fact, stated a claim regarding violation of the Commerce Clause. Referring to the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, plaintiffs state that Congress did not give authorization to establish tolls “free of limitations imposed by the dormant Commerce Clause.”

Also using a separate three-prong test of reasonableness of levies, OOIDA argued that toll receipts, which have exceeded 200 percent of the cost to maintain and operate the turnpike, are not based on some fair approximation of the use of the turnpike, and are excessive in relation to the benefits conferred.

In the opinion, the court found credible OOIDA’s allegation that Pennsylvania’s policy decisions related to transportation have resulted in a statutory scheme that disproportionately burdens turnpike travelers with the costs of a statewide transportation system that is of no direct benefit to them. LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.