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Calzone v. Karsten

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

March 9, 2018

SANDRA KARSTEN[1] Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court on remand from the Eighth Circuit. Plaintiff Ronald Calzone claims RSMo. § 304.230 is unconstitutional as applied to him-a farmer who occasionally operates his 56, 000-pound dump truck only in the State of Missouri- because he is not a member of the closely regulated commercial trucking industry. The parties have renewed their motions for summary judgment. Because the Court finds Calzone is a member of the closely regulated commercial trucking industry, his motion for summary judgment (#14) is denied and the state's motion for summary judgment (#10) is granted.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Calzone is a Missouri farmer who occasionally operates his dump truck no more than fifty miles from his farm. The dump truck is licensed with a Missouri 54, 000-pound local license plate that is marked with the letter F, which designates the dump truck as a farm truck. The truck does not have a U.S. Department of Transportation number on it. Calzone is not a professional truck driver, and he uses the dump truck only when transporting agricultural products or supplies to and from his farm.

         In June 2013, a Missouri State Highway Patrol corporal stopped Calzone while he was driving his dump truck on the highway. The corporal told Calzone that he pulled him over because he “did not recognize the truck or the markings displayed on the vehicle” and asked to inspect it. Calzone refused, and the corporal then explained that RSMo. § 304.230 authorized him to stop commercial vehicles and inspect them whether or not he had probable cause. The corporal warned Calzone if he did not submit to an inspection, he would issue Calzone a citation. Calzone still refused, so the corporal issued him a citation for failing to submit to a commercial vehicle inspection. The Phelps County prosecutor later abandoned the action against Calzone.

         Calzone then sued the governor of Missouri, the Missouri attorney general, and the superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He sought a declaratory judgment that § 304.230.1, .2, and .7 are unconstitutional on their face and as applied to him. He asked for a permanent injunction against the enforcement of these provisions, one dollar in nominal damages, and costs and attorney's fees. Although the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and searches, not all warrantless seizures are unreasonable. In fact, warrantless inspections involving closely regulated industries are constitutional when certain conditions are met. New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 702-03 (1987). As such, this Court held the challenged provisions were not facially unconstitutional, because they could be applied constitutionally to participants in the closely regulated commercial trucking industry. This Court also held Calzone's as-applied challenge must fail because he named as parties the governor, attorney general, and superintendent, instead of the corporal who pulled him over.

         The Eighth Circuit affirmed this Court's conclusion that the challenged provisions are not facially unconstitutional. Calzone v. Hawley, 866 F.3d 866, 871 (8th Cir. 2017). It also affirmed this Court's conclusion that the governor and attorney general were improper parties for Calzone's as-applied challenge. Id. at 872. But the Eighth Circuit held “Calzone can sue the superintendent in her official capacity for declaratory and injunctive relief[.]” Id. It remanded so this Court could address the merits of Calzone's as-applied challenge. The Eighth Circuit listed two questions this Court may need to consider to resolve the as-applied challenge: (1) “whether Missouri's incorporation of the federal regulations also incorporates the exceptions for farm vehicles that are contained within those federal regulations, or whether Missouri's own exceptions at § 307.400.1(2) and .5 are exclusive” and (2) “whether a partial exemption from the federal regulations removes an operator from the realm of the closely regulated commercial trucking industry.” Id.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Poller v. Columbia Broad. Sys., Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 467 (1962). This Court must construe the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, but it need not accept a version of the events that “is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it.” Marksmeier v. Davie, 622 F.3d 896, 900 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)).

         III. Discussion

         Calzone makes three arguments for why the challenged subsections of § 304.230 are unconstitutional as applied to him. The Court will address each separately.

         A. Even Though Calzone Is Not Engaged in a Business Tied to the Professional Commercial Trucking Industry, He Is Still Subject to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Regulations

         First, Calzone claims he is not subject to the Fourth Amendment's closely regulated industry exception because he is not engaged in any business tied to the commercial trucking industry. The Eighth Circuit has made clear the commercial trucking, itself, is a closely regulated industry. Calzone, 866 F.3d at 871. But Calzone argues he is not a professional truck driver, so he hasn't voluntarily given up Fourth Amendment rights like those who choose a career in professional truck driving.

         The Court rejected this argument when first ruling on summary judgment: “Although [Calzone] was not a long-haul common carrier . . ., the fact that [he] was driving his dump trunk (and not a tractor-trailer filled with goods for sale) is not relevant to the statute or to the officers who enforce it.” (#27 at 8.) This Court also observed Calzone held a “commercial” driver's license and his truck was registered for “local commercial” use. Finally, § 302.010 defines “commercial motor vehicle” as “a motor vehicle designed or regularly used for carrying freight and merchandise[.]” This Court concluded “regardless of to what use [Calzone] put the dump truck, the dump truck was ‘designed' for carrying freight and was in fact registered as a ‘commercial' vehicle. [Calzone] was therefore ...

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