President's weekly report — May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015 | By ROB RIVETT

Competitor’s veto law — One down, one on its way down

The notion that existing players in a transportation business (taxis, movers and limo companies) should be able to veto new entrants into a market in order to reduce competition is absurd and opposite the economic liberty that is a hallmark of America.  Thus we have sued to throw out such progressive-era laws in Montana in Pabst v. Fox (taxis) and in Nevada with Perlman v. MacKay (limousines).  But before the lawsuits have been finally decided, the legislatures of these states have woken up and said it’s time to get rid of these protectionist dinosaurs.  This week, legislation was passed and signed by Governor Bullock in Montana to toss out of that state’s competitor’s veto law, and we testified before a Nevada legislative committee which is considering doing the same.  These victories follow on the heels of similar legislative repeals in Oregon and Missouri and a court ruling in Kentucky — all in response to PLF filed litigation. Lastly, we had oral argument this week before the Ninth Circuit in Underwood v. MacKay on the issue of whether a mover must submit to an unconstitutional competitor’s veto scheme in order to challenge it.

Property rights — Mining claims are property rights

We filed this amicus brief in People v. Rinehart before the California Supreme Court.  Under federal law mining for gold is a lawful activity — and one that is even encouraged under the mining laws.  But California has banned all gold mining using suction dredges.  But as the United States Supreme Court held almost three decades ago in Granite Rock v. California Coastal Commission (a case where PLF filed an amicus brief) while it is perfectly acceptable for a state to regulate mining on federal land, it may not ban mining.  For more, see our blog here.

Property rights — Public trust doctrine

We filed this amicus brief in Friends of Martin’s Beach v. Martins Beach 1 & 2.  Here, for many years the owners of privately owned property charged the public for access across their property to reach a private beach, replete with a parking lot and facilities.  When the county refused to allow a new owner permission to make improvements and raise the fee to cover the costs, the owner closed the beach.  Now activists are claiming an eternal right to traipse across the private property — for free — in order to reach the beach.  Trouble is, as our blog explains, this is not the law, not even under the state’s public trust doctrine.

Event on Endangered Species Act

On June 2, PLF and the Competitive Enterprise Institute will be hosting a lunchtime event in Washington, D.C.  This forum will highlight our challenge to the listing and regulation of the prairie dog as endangered species in People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. US Fish & Wildlife Service .  Because the rodent doesn’t cross state borders and has no impact on commerce, a district court ruled the federal government is without authority to regulate it. For more details on the event, check out our blog post here.

Tort reform — liability for improvements

Years before selling a chemical plant, Occidental Petroleum installed a system for injecting acid into a large industrial vat.  That seemed an improvement upon the old way of having an employee climb a ladder with a bucket of acid.  But eight years after Occidental sold the plant, and 14 years after installing the system, a new employee (for the new owners) was sprayed with acid.  So naturally he sued everybody in sight, including Occidental.  We filed this amicus brief in Occidental Petroleum v. Jenkins. Our point is simple, a former owner of a facility shouldn’t be forever on the hook for everything that goes wrong.  For more, see our blog.

Economic liberty — beer growlers

This week, Florida’s Governor Scott has signed a bill legalizing the sale of beer in 64 ounce “growlers” or reusable containers. The legislation was likely precipitated by our lawsuit, The Crafted Keg v. Lawson. See our blog post here.