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Haines v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

April 27, 2015

ROGER HAINES, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND

THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, District Judge.

On November 19, 2014, Plaintiff Roger Haines filed suit against Defendant Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association and several of its agents. Haines alleges that Defendants violated the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., and his Fourteenth Amendment rights when it declared one of his motor coaches an "imminent hazard" to public safety.

On March 9, 2015, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, contending that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Haines's APA claim and that Haines had not stated a claim with respect to his Fourteenth Amendment allegations. Because Haines is not appealing a "final agency decision, " this Court lacks jurisdiction over the claim and it will be dismissed without prejudice. Moreover, Haines's Fourteenth Amendment claims will be dismissed because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 authorizes suits against state actors only, and Haines is suing federal actors.

While Defendants' motion to dismiss was pending, Haines filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint. The proposed amendment would clarify that he is bringing a Bivens action against the federal actors, rather than a § 1983 action. However, because the proposed amendment would be futile, Haines's motion to amend will be denied.

I.

Haines owns and operates Haines Tours, a for-hire passenger carrier headquartered in Gladwin, Michigan. Am. Compl. ¶ 10. In 2000, Haines modified the luggage area of one of his buses to become a new sleeper area. Id. ¶ 13.

In August 2010, the FMCSA-a division of the Department of Transportation- conducted a compliance review of one of Haines's buses. During the compliance review, the FMCSA safety investigator found that two of Haines's buses were equipped with sleeper berths in the buses' luggage compartments that did not conform to the requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 393.76. Specifically, the investigator cited Haines for:

- using a sleeper berth that does not allow an occupant's direct and ready exit, 49 C.F.R. § 393.76(a)(3);
- using a sleeper berth that does not have at least two exits, at opposite ends of the vehicle, that are usable by the occupant without the assistance of any other person, 49 C.F.R. § 393.76(c)(2)(ii).

Am. Compl. Ex. 4. The FMCSA disallowed the use of the sleeper berth but approved the bus for normal operations on May 16, 2011. Am. Compl. ¶ 21.

About two weeks later, on May 29, 2011, Haines "had a trip with no need for the driver to use the sleeper." Am. Compl. ¶ 22. Therefore, Haines "had some of his family in there for the trip." Id. According to Haines, someone "noticed the family in the sleeper area and notified the authorities." Id.

On June 10, 2011, the FMCSA issued an Out-of-Service Order to Haines, finding that Haines's bus was an "imminent hazard" to public safety. Am. Compl. ¶ 24. The Out-of-Service Order concluded that Haines's practice of "transport[ing] passengers in the luggage compartments of motor coaches... violates 49 C.F.R. § 392.62(c)(2) and (3) and substantially increase[s] the likelihood of serious injury or death to HAINES' passengers." Am. Compl. Ex. 4. The Out-of-Service Order directed Haines to "cease all commercial motor vehicle operations...." Ex. 4. As a result of the immediate cessation of all operations, two buses were stranded in Chicago, IL. Am. Compl. ¶ 25.

Four days later, on June 14, 2011, Haines contacted Defendant Jones, Administrator of the FMCSA Midwest Field Office, to dispute the Out-of-Service Order. Am. Compl. ¶ 27. Jones rescinded the Out-of-Service Order on June 15, 2011, noting the "corrective action measure implemented by Roger Haines dba Haines Tours have abated the condition of imminent hazard, as described in the June 10, 2011 Operations Out-of-Service Order." Am. Compl. Ex. E.

The next day, on June 16, 2011, Defendant Farro, then FMCSA Administrator, reversed Jones's determination and reinstated the Out-of-Service Order. Am. Compl. ¶ 28. Farro concluded that "I do not find that the corrective action measures implemented by Haines are sufficient ...


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