How to Use this Blog

What does this blog offer and when? 

1. “NEW RULES & DECISIONS”: A selection of new regulations issued by U.S. federal agencies, and new court decisions in the form of opinions from U.S. federal and state courts. This is a selection. It is not exhaustive.

Posted each Wednesday.

2. “COMMENT”: This consists of: (1) Congressional developments, (2) Remarks on what new agency rules and court decisions could mean for transport business, (3) what other lawyers have written on transport business law, and (4) upcoming issues working their way through the agency, appellate and congressional pipelines.

Posted each Saturday.

How can I access a particular subject?

Two ways.

First, “NEW RULES & DECISIONS CONTENTS SUMMARY” and ”COMMENT SECTION CONTENT SUMMARY” for the week of posting. Each such summary is divided into:

  1. TOPICS BY TRANSPORT MODE
  2. TOPICS BY TRANSPORT POLICY
  3. TOPICS BY AGENCY INITIATIVE,  
  4. TOPICS BY LEGAL DISCIPLINE, and
  5. NOTEWORTHY ENFORCEMENT – CRIMINAL, CIVIL, REGULATORY.

Second, by use of the “tags”. 

Click on the tag for a subject to bring up all entries so categorized – beginning with the most recent.

Finally as to headings and tags, the reader should use them for ready reference but avoid confining principles to the transport mode or specific policy heading under which a rule or case arises. Transport business law principles developed in sectors like trucking or railroads, or with respect to stand alone policies like hazmat or homeland security, often have relevance well outside the mode or policy under which they happen to arise. Stated another way, headings and tags in this blog reference the mode or policy under which a rule or decision was developed. But, as this blog explains under “How this Area of the Law Works”, their relevance often extends across-the-board.

“Selective” updates? 

Each week the federal agencies make 15 to 30 announcements in the Federal Register about new rules or new proposed rules relating to transport business. Each week the federal and state courts through Westlaw and LexisNexis report 40 to 60 opinions relating to transport business.

In any week I as the author review all or most of these but I am able to post on only a fraction of them – hopefully the most instructive fraction.

Two observations about how I select rules and cases for coverage in this blog:

First, on agency rules, it’s hard to dismiss or ignore an administrative command that applies to a lot of transport businesses – no matter how arcane it might seem. Sometimes I end up summarizing an administrative regulation that seems obscure in its focus but whose wide application makes it required reading for those who are required to abide by it.

Second, on court cases, I try to focus on appellate opinions as one principle of selection.

But I occasionally collect a handful of recent federal district court cases in some areas that do not often make it to the appellate level. Notable in this category:

  1.  Jones Act, Death on the HIgh Seas Act and general maritime jurisdiction injuries-to-seamen torts;
  2. Federal Employers Liability Act railroad worker injury cases; and
  3. Various applications of federal preemption doctrine to transportation torts – such as tort actions between motorists and railroads at rail crossings in relation to the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 or tort actions by passengers against airlines in relation to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

What’s the point of “Comment”?

My airline pilot friends talk about “situation awareness”. Amidst a torrent of data in the cockpit, they need to quickly access what matters, put aside what they can safely ignore for the moment – and then make decisions and execute them as promptly as the situation demands.

Similarly, transport business executives and the lawyers who advise them need an intelligent basis on which to prioritize and then respond to the multiple legal constraints that have an impact on their companies.

In this setting, a proverbial “data dump” to the client might enable the advising lawyer to feel that he or she is thereby “off the hook” in terms of giving thorough advice. But an undifferentiated mass of information is not very actionable for the business decision maker.

Therefore the lawyer who would truly partner with his or her client must offer a candid assessment of what is more urgent and more important – and of what is less so. To that end, the “Comment” section offers some but usually not all of the following:

  • Congressional Developments: U.S. Congress bills passed by both Houses when indicated.
  • Remarks: Interpretation of what new rules and decisions mean for business.
  • Case Studies: Occasionally a court case or administrative rule illustrates a point worth covering to make a point that transcends the case or rule itself.
  • Recommended Reading: Other lawyers’ writing that the blog commends to the reader’s attention.
  • Upcoming: Legal questions now working their way through the appellate pipeline, the agency proposal process, or bills pending in Congress – for future resolution.

How can we communicate with each other?

Please e-mail me at joel@webberpc.com, telephone me at +1 847 446 0044, or write to me at Joel Webber, Joel A. Webber, P.C., The Bartnell Building, 552 Lincoln Avenue, Winnetka, Illinois 60093, USA.

I welcome the chance to communicate, and if warranted, to post a dialogue with an informed reader. But as to a comment or reply function on this blog, I do not believe that I can fulfill expectations of moderating in a consistently timely manner given the demands of my law practice.

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