U.S. Court of Appeal Reaches in Truck Company’s Meal and Rest Break Dispute

On July 9, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rendered its long-awaited decision in Dilts vs. Penske Logistics.

The issue was whether California’s meal and rest break laws as applied to truck – and possibly bus – drivers were preempted by the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (“FAAAA”). Penske argued the state’s meal and rest break laws are preempted under the FAAAA, which provides that the “states may not enact or enforce a law … related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier … with respect to the transportation of property.”

The Court disagreed, holding that a “state law governing hours is … not sufficiently ‘related to’ prices, routes, or services” to support federal preemption. However, in an all-important footnote, the Court noted that Penske’s drivers drove purely in California intrastate commerce and were not subject to the federal hours of service regulations, thereby leaving the door open for a different holding in a future case involving drivers that must comply with federal hours of service requirements.

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