Federal appeals court will not rehear OOIDA’s toll lawsuit
September 17, 2019
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is evaluating options after a federal appeals court decided not to rehear its Pennsylvania toll suit.
On Sept. 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided not to rehear OOIDA’s case against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and other government officials. In August, the court agreed with a federal district court to dismiss the toll suit.
Shortly after that decision, OOIDA requested that the court rehear the case en banc, i.e. the full court. As with most appellate cases, a panel of three judges presided over the case. A party can request that the court rehear a case with all available judges in the circuit for a more complete opinion.
In their complaint, OOIDA and co-plaintiff the National Motorist Association argue that Pennsylvania’s tolls are excessive, with revenue far exceeding the costs of operation of the turnpike. The lawsuit claims that extra revenue is used for projects that disproportionately benefit local interests. Furthermore, high toll costs deter motorists who do not live in Pennsylvania from using the turnpike.
In a precedential opinion, the appellate court determined that extra revenue used for nonturnpike purposes do not violate the Commerce Clause since Congress has given states permission to use toll revenue for other projects.
Essentially, the appellate court concluded in the toll suit that Congress did in fact allow Pennsylvania to use toll revenue for nonturnpike purposes.
OOIDA stated it will evaluate its options after the court’s latest decision. Now that the Association has exhausted the option to request an en banc hearing, the next possible step will be to petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.