C.H. Robinson v. Miller

C.H. Robinson is a freight broker, that is, an intermediary that connects shippers who have goods with motor carriers to move the goods. In 2016, C.H. Robinson hired a motor carrier with a history of safety violations. Driving unsafely, the driver drove over the median, where the truck overturned and blocked oncoming lanes. Allen Miller, who was driving in the opposite direction, was unable to avoid the truck after it crossed into his lane, crashed into it, and was rendered a quadriplegic.

Mr. Miller sued C.H. Robinson for negligently hiring the motor carrier. In response, C.H. Robinson argued that the claim was barred by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which preempts state laws “related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier … [or] broker,” but contains an exception for the “safety regulatory authority of a State with respect to motor vehicles.” The district court granted the motion. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the claim is not preempted because it falls within the exception for the safety regulatory authority of a state. C.H. Robinson then filed a petition seeking review in the Supreme Court.

Public Citizen serves as co-counsel for Mr. Miller in the Supreme Court. Our opposition to the petition explains that the Court should deny review because the decision in this case is of the first appellate decision to address the question presented and because the decision correctly held that the claim is not preempted. The Court will decide whether to grant or deny the case when it reconvenes in September 2021. On October 4, 2021, the Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief in the case expressing the views of the United States.