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Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association v. United States Department of Transportation

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 5, 2018

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, also known as OOIDA; Scott Mitchell Petitioners
United States Department of Transportation; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; United States of America Respondents

          Submitted: November 15, 2017

         Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board

          Before BENTON, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.


         Anyone who has undergone sleep apnea testing knows it is expensive, time-consuming, and unpleasant. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc. ("OOIDA") and Scott Mitchell (a member of OOIDA) allege that a new administrative rule means that OOIDA members are being subjected to more of these onerous tests, which in turn has led to delays, or worse, denials of medical certification to drive commercial motor vehicles ("CMV"). They petition us, an Article III court, to vacate the rule. As an initial step, they must-among other things-offer evidence that the challenged rule has caused the harm they allege. OOIDA and Mitchell have not taken that step. In other words, they have not proven standing to invoke our jurisdiction, and we therefore dismiss the petition.


         Congress delegated authority to the Department of Transportation ("DOT") to "establish, review, and revise . . . medical standards for operators of [CMVs] . . . and requirements for periodic physical examinations of such operators." 49 U.S.C. § 31149(c)(1)(A). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency ("FMCSA"), an agency within the DOT, has long been in charge of exercising that delegated authority. See e.g., Medical Certification Requirements as Part of the CDL, 73 Fed. Reg. 73, 096, 73, 096 (Dec. 1, 2008) ("The FMCSA is required by statute to establish standards for the physical qualifications of drivers who operate CMVs in interstate commerce.").

         Pursuant to that delegated authority (and others), the FMCSA promulgated a final rule entitled "Medical Examiner's Certification Integration." 80 Fed. Reg. 22, 790 (April 23, 2015) ("Rule").[1] The thrust of the Rule is efficiency: FMCSA wanted medical examiners to deliver the results of their examination quicker and electronically in order to ensure better coordination between the state and federal agencies that regulate CMV drivers. As part of that effort, the Rule revised, and made mandatory, the Medical Examination Report Form ("Revised MER Form") used to evaluate CMV drivers. The Revised MER Form contained additional questions, including a question asking the driver whether he or she has ever been tested for sleep apnea. It also no longer contained detailed guidance for medical examiners. Instead, the Advisory Guidance that used to be attached to the MER Form was moved to an Appendix in the Code of Federal Regulations.

         OOIDA and Mitchell petitioned the FMCSA for reconsideration of the Rule. After the petition was denied, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2342(3)(A), they filed for review of the Rule in this court, arguing that its promulgation violated the Administrative Procedure Act and other statutory requirements. They assert that due to the Rule "OOIDA members have suffered real, personalized harm" because they "have been subjected to unnecessary and expensive testing . . . particularly in connection with sleep disorders" and such testing has led to denials of medical certification to drive CMVs in some cases.

         The Government's primary contention is that both OOIDA and Mitchell lack standing to bring this claim. We begin, and end, there.



         Article III commands that federal courts intervene only in "Cases" or "Controversies." U.S. Const., Art. III, § 2. Standing is a doctrine that illuminates the contours of our constitutional authority by "identify[ing] those disputes which are appropriately resolved through the judicial process." Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 2334, 2341 (2014) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992)). Because of this, it is axiomatic that a party seeking to litigate in federal courts must have "(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision." Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016).[2]

         Direct appellate review of administrative action-as is requested here-does not alter the requirements of standing. See John G. Roberts, Jr., Article III Limits on Statutory Standing, 42 Duke L.J. 1219, 1226 (1993) ("[T]he conclusion [reached by the Supreme Court] that Article III limits congressional power can hardly be regarded as remarkable"). Thus, we have said that "parties seeking direct appellate review of an agency action must prove each element of standing as if they were moving for summary judgment in a district court." Iowa League of Cities v. EPA., 711 F.3d 844, 869 (8th Cir. 2013). Just like at the summary judgment stage, we look for "specific facts supported by affidavit or other evidence." Owner-Operator Indep. Drivers Ass'n, Inc. v. Dep't of Transportation, 831 F.3d 961, 966 (8th Cir. 2016) ("OOIDA I"). Simply ...

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