Enforcement by State attorneys general
A State, as parens patriae, may bring a civil action on behalf of its residents in an appropriate district court of the United States to enforce the consumer protection provisions of this title that apply to individual shippers, as determined by the Secretary, and are related to the delivery and transportation of household goods by a household goods motor carrier subject to jurisdiction under subchapter I of chapter 135 or regulations or orders of the Secretary or the Board issued under such provisions or to impose the civil penalties authorized by this part or such regulations or orders, whenever the attorney general of the State has reason to believe that the interests of the residents of the State have been or are being threatened or adversely affected by a carrier or broker providing transportation subject to jurisdiction under subchapter I or III of chapter 135 or a foreign motor carrier providing transportation that is registered under section 13902 and is engaged in household goods transportation that violates this part or a regulation or order of the Secretary or Board, as applicable, issued under this part.
(b) Notice and Consent.—
The State shall serve written notice to the Secretary or the Board, as the case may be, of any civil action under subsection (a) prior to initiating such civil action. The notice shall include a copy of the complaint to be filed to initiate such civil action.
(2)Conditions.—The Secretary or the Board—
(A) shall review the initiation of a civil action under this section by a State if—
the carrier or broker that is the subject of the action is not registered with the Department of Transportation;
the license of the carrier or broker for failure to file proof of required bodily injury or cargo liability insurance is pending, or the license has been revoked for any other reason by the Department;
the carrier is not rated or has received a conditional or unsatisfactory safety rating by the Department; or
the carrier or broker has been licensed with the Department for less than 5 years; and
may review if the carrier or broker fails to meet criteria developed by the Secretary that are consistent with this section.
The Secretary shall notify the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives of any criteria developed by the Secretary under paragraph (2)(B).
(4) 60-day deadline.—
The Secretary or the Board shall be considered to have consented to any civil action of a State under this section if the Secretary or the Board has taken no action with respect to the notice within 60 calendar days after the date on which the Secretary or the Board received notice under paragraph (1).
(c)Authority to Intervene.—Upon receiving the notice required by subsection (b), the Secretary or board may intervene in a civil action of a State under this section and upon intervening—
be heard on all matters arising in such civil action; and
file petitions for appeal of a decision in such civil actions.
(d)Construction.—For purposes of bringing any civil action under subsection (a), nothing in this section shall—
convey a right to initiate or maintain a class action lawsuit in the enforcement of a Federal law or regulation; or
prevent the attorney general of a State from exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general by the laws of such State to conduct investigations or to administer oaths or affirmations or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary and other evidence.
(e)Venue; Service of Process.—In a civil action brought under subsection (a)—
(1) the venue shall be a Federal judicial district in which—
the carrier, foreign motor carrier, or broker operates;
the carrier, foreign motor carrier, or broker was authorized to provide transportation at the time the complaint arose; or
where the defendant in the civil action is found;
process may be served without regard to the territorial limits of the district or of the State in which the civil action is instituted; and
a person who participated with a carrier or broker in an alleged violation that is being litigated in the civil action may be joined in the civil action without regard to the residence of the person.
(f)Enforcement of State Law.—
Nothing contained in this section shall prohibit an authorized State official from proceeding in State court to enforce a criminal statute of such State.
(Added Pub. L. 109–59, title IV
, § 4206(b)(1), Aug. 10, 2005
, 119 Stat. 1755
; amended Pub. L. 109–115, div. A, title I
, § 173(c), (d), Nov. 30, 2005
, 119 Stat. 2426
2005—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 109–115, § 173(c), (e), temporarily inserted at end “The State may initiate a civil action under subsection (a) if it is reviewable under subsection (b)(2).” See Termination Date of 2005 Amendment note below.
Subsec. (b)(4). Pub. L. 109–115, § 173(d), (e), temporarily inserted “that is subject to review under subsection (b)(2)” before “if the Secretary”. See Termination Date of 2005 Amendment note below.
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