Mayer Brown secured a landmark trial victory in the Rhode Island District Court for the American Trucking Associations, Cumberland Farms and M&M Transport Services in American Trucking Associations et al. v. Peter Alviti Jr. et al—successfully challenging the constitutionality of Rhode Island’s bridge-toll regime (RhodeWorks).
In May 2022, during a 12-day bench trial on the merits of the case, Mayer Brown demonstrated that RhodeWorks was adopted with an intent to discriminate against out of state truck traffic in order to shift the burden of bridge repairs from in-state residents to out-of-state users of Rhode Island roads. Further, the firm demonstrated that the tolls did not reflect a fair approximation of the usage of the bridges, as large commercial trucks comprised only three percent of the traffic on the bridges, but were paying 100 percent of the tolls. Mayer Brown also demonstrated that certain toll caps that were imposed under the legislation had the effect of discriminating against out-of-state traffic because in-state trucks disproportionately benefited from toll caps as a result of their more-frequent use of the tolled facilities.
On September 21, 2022, the district court issued a 91-page ruling, holding that the statute violated the Dormant Commerce clause, permanently enjoining the collection of tolls under the system, and entering final judgment in favor of plaintiffs.
This was a landmark decision for the trucking industry, as RhodeWorks was the first-of-its-kind to implement a truck-only tolling scheme. Had the discriminatory scheme survived scrutiny, there was substantial risk that other states would have followed Rhode Island’s lead and placed the full burden of their interstate infrastructure solely on the trucking industry, rather than requiring all road users to pay a fair approximation of costs.
The trial team was led by partners Reginald Goeke and Evan Tager and special counsel Charles Rothfeld, and included counsel Michelle Webster and Eric White and associates Colleen Campbell and Tara More.