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Weaver v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

February 28, 2014

FRED WEAVER, JR. AND OWNER-OPERATOR INDEPENDENT DRIVERS ASSN., INC., PETITIONERS
v.
FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION, ET AL., RESPONDENTS

Argued December 5, 2013.

Paul D. Cullen, Sr. argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were David A. Cohen, Joyce E. Mayers, and Paul D. Cullen, Jr.

Mark W. Pennak, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Stuart Delery, Assistant Attorney General, Matthew Collette, Attorney, Paul M. Geier, Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Peter J. Plocki, Deputy Assistant General Counsel.

Before: BROWN, Circuit Judge, and WILLIAMS AND SENTELLE, Senior Circuit Judges.

OPINION

On Petition for Review of Final Agency Action of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Williams, Senior Circuit Judge:

This is a case about a minor traffic violation and its persistence in a database administered by the federal government. The petitioner, Fred Weaver, Jr., received a citation for failing to obey a Montana traffic ordinance. A record of the citation made its way into a database administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Page 143

(" FMCSA" ). Much of the information in this database is, like Weaver's citation, the product of state authorities. And under a rule adopted by FMCSA, Privacy Act of 1974; Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 007 Pre-Employment Screening Program, 77 Fed. Reg. 42,548, 42,551/3 (2012) (" FMCSA Systems of Record Notice" ), state officials also decide how to respond when a driver challenges a citation's inclusion in the database, as Weaver has here.

The crux of Weaver's complaint is that, in maintaining this record of the citation, FMCSA has violated the statute authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to maintain the database. He points particularly (though not exclusively) to its requirements that the Secretary " ensure, to the maximum extent practical, [that] all the data is complete, timely, and accurate," 49 U.S.C. § 31106(a)(3)(F), " provide for review and correction" of information in the database, id. § 31106(e)(1), and, before releasing any information from the system, both comply with certain standards of accuracy and (again) " provide a procedure for the operator-applicant to correct inaccurate information in the System in a timely manner," id. § 31150(b)(1), (4).

Though the parties disagree energetically on the merits, they agree that Weaver's action does not lie in this court. Weaver frankly acknowledges that he filed this suit as a precaution, lest the district court dismiss a related suit filed there on the grounds that it should have been filed here, but only after the time to file here has expired. We agree that we lack jurisdiction. Because the parties disagree as to the reasons, and those reasons are critical to the parties' dispute, we explain them below, and end by transferring the case to the district court.

* * *

In June 2011 Weaver received a misdemeanor citation for failing to stop his truck at a weigh station as required by Montana law. Weaver challenged the citation in Montana court and it was dismissed " without prejudice" ; there is some dispute whether the court found Weaver not guilty or dismissed his action as part of a deferred prosecution arrangement.

That might have been the end of it, except that a record of Weaver's citation was included in a database administered by FMCSA. This database, known as the Motor Carrier Management Information System (" MCMIS" ), contains information on commercial truck drivers' safety records, such as accident reports and other safety violations. Potential employers in the motor carrier industry may, with the written permission of the driver, receive access to the data in order to screen potential employees. ...


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