Thursday, May 23, 2013

Center For Auto Safety v. Federal Highway Administration case brief

Center For Auto Safety v. Federal Highway Administration case brief
956 F.2d 309, 294 U.S. App. D.C. 23 (D.C. Cir. 1992)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Appellants public safety organization and individuals sought review of the judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, granting summary judgment in favor of appellee Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on a challenge to an amendment of bridge inspection regulations.

FACTS: The FHWA amended bridge inspection regulations that required inspections at least every two years to authorize less frequent inspections in certain circumstances, 23 C.F.R. § 650.305(c), and to require inspection of bridges' underwater supports at least every five years. 23 C.F.R. § 650.303(e)(2). The district court upheld the challenged regulations. The court reversed in part, finding that the amendment authorizing less frequent inspections could not be reconciled with 23 U.S.C.S. § 151(b)(2) because the regulation failed to "establish" the maximum time period between inspections as required by § 151(b)(2). The preamble and technical advisory language could not be used to "establish" a requirement of inspections at least every four years. Further, the FHWA could not rely on studies that were not formally introduced into the administrative record. However, the FHWA did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in establishing the maximum period between inspections for underwater supports because the FHWA's interpretation that the two-year requirement did not apply was not unreasonable and the FHWA articulated a satisfactory explanation based on the available data.

CONCLUSION: The court reversed in part and remanded, finding that the district court should have enjoined the amendment allowing less frequent inspections under certain circumstances as inconsistent with statutory law. The court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the FHWA as to the regulations allowing inspection of the bridge underwater supports at least every five years.

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