Sunday, May 12, 2013

Air Transport Association of America v. Department of Transportation case brief

Air Transport Association of America v. Department of Transportation case brief
900 F.2d 369, 283 U.S. App. D.C. 385 (D.C. Cir. 1990)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Petitioner association sought review of an order of respondent, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which promulgated a body of regulations, codified at 14 C.F.R. pt. 13, governing the adjudication of administrative civil penalty actions to enforce compliance with aviation safety standards, pursuant to 49 U.S.C.S. app. § 1475(d).

FACTS: The association challenged the FAA regulations, claiming that the FAA failed to comply with the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), specifically 5 U.S.C.S. § 553. The FAA justified its lack of compliance under the exceptions, as provided in 5 U.S.C.S. § 553(b)(3)(A)-(B). The court held: 1) the association's procedural challenge was ripe for review because the challenge was purely legal and could be determined solely from the text, legislative history, and statutory interpretation; 2) because the rules affected the due process and statutory rights to avail those penalized of administrative adjudication, the members of the aviation community had a legitimate interest in participating in the rulemaking process; 3) the statutory deadline did not constitute good cause under 5 U.S.C.S. § 553(b)(3)(B) because Congress did not express an intention to relieve the agency of its legal obligation to provide notice and comment, and further the FAA was foreclosed from the good cause exception due to its own delay in issuing the rules; 4) post-enactment comment was insufficient to cure noncompliance; and 5) the exercise of equitable remedial powers was proper.

CONCLUSION: The court granted the association's petition for review and ordered the FAA not to initiate further prosecutions until the agency engaged in further rulemaking in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. The court further required the FAA to hold pending cases in abeyance until repromulgation of civil penalty procedures.

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