Flock v. United States Department of Transportation, No. 15-2310 (1st Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) maintains a database of inspection history and safety records relating to commercial motor vehicle operators. Appellants, a group of commercial motor vehicle operators, brought suit against the FMSCA and the Department of Transportation, arguing that the potential disclosure to employers of “non-serious” driver-related safety records contained in the database violates the Privacy Act. The district court granted the FMCSA’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, concluding that 49 U.S.C. 31150 was ambiguous as to the agency’s authority to include non-serious driver-related safety violations in the database and, further, that the agency’s interpretation of section 31150 was a reasonable and permissible construction of the statute and was entitled to Chevron deference. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) section 31150 is ambiguous as to the question of non-serious driver-related safety violations; and (2) the agency’s interpretation of the statute is not arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute.