Federal judge extends temporary injunction against AB5 in California

The temporary injunction that halted the implementation of AB5 in the California trucking market has been extended, according to multiple reports.

In a hearing in San Diego on Monday, Federal District Court Judge Roger Benitez, who handed down the initial temporary restraining order on New Year’s Eve, extended the injunction, according to several sources. The Scopelitis law firm, in a message, said the judge “took the matter under advisement” and that the temporary injunction was not turned into a preliminary injunction. But the judge “seemed to be leaning in favor of granting a preliminary injunction that would enjoin the State from enforcing AB 5 as to any motor carrier operating in California pending resolution of the case by the District Court,” Scopelitis said in its email blast.

The timing of a final decision on the request by the California Trucking Association (CTA) for a temporary restraining order “remains unclear, but [Scopelitis] anticipates an extension of the TRO for at least 14 days or until the order ruling on the preliminary injunction is filed,” the firm said in the email.

As of this writing, no formal notice has been posted of the Benitez decision, but multiple sources in the courtroom have reported what the judge said in handing down his order.

The CTA had argued that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, known as the F4A act, had made California’s imposition of AB5 against the trucking sector an act that illegally substituted the state’s authority for federal authority. Benitez’s decision in the New Year’s Eve temporary injunction gave a strong indication that he was leaning toward agreeing with the CTA argument.

The injunction against AB5 does not affect implementation of the law against non-employee contractors in other industries. For the trucking industry, the biggest issue with AB5 was the so-called “B prong,” which appears to prohibit a company from hiring contract workers to perform a task that is at the core of what the company does. A trucking company hiring truckers as independent contractors would presumably meet that test. (Freelance writers in California are protesting that they are losing job opportunities because publishers believe the B prong makes it illegal for them to be hired as contractors and that they must be made employees).

Last week, in a state court, Judge William Highberger agreed with the F4A argument in a case brought by the state two years ago against Cal Cartage Transportation Express.