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Third Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Lawsuit Against PA in Turnpike Tolls Case

On August 16, 2019 by Schnader in Appellate

In a victory for Firm clients Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and state Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Governor, the Secretary, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, that sought to reduce the level of Turnpike tolls by hundreds of millions of dollars. The plaintiffs claimed that the allegedly excessive level of Turnpike tolls violated the federal Constitution’s Commerce Clause and the constitutional right to travel. The appeals court agreed with the defendants that legislation enacted by Congress in 1991 authorized states to use highway tolls for non-toll-road transportation purposes, and thus, the level of tolls (and their use for other projects) did not implicate the Commerce Clause. The court also agreed with defendants that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for violation of the constitutional right to travel because plaintiffs did not allege that the level of Turnpike tolls deterred them from traveling to, from, or within Pennsylvania.

Bruce Merenstein and Arleigh Helfer represented the Governor and Secretary in both the trial court and the Third Circuit. Merenstein is chair of Schnader’s Appellate Practice Group.