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Waterfront Com'n of New York Harbor v. Elizabeth-Newark Shipping

December 29, 1998

WATERFRONT COMMISSION OF NEW YORK HARBOR, ON BEHALF OF ITSELF AND OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
v.
ELIZABETH-NEWARK SHIPPING, INC., APPELLANT



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 96-cv-03662) (District Judge: Hon. William H. Walls)

Before: Sloviter and Cowen, Circuit Judges, and Oberdorfer, District Judge*

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sloviter, Circuit Judge.

Argued December 14, 1998

OPINION OF THE COURT

I.

At issue in this case is the application of regulatory provisions of the Waterfront Commission Compact ("the Compact") to a company that transports by water certain merchandise, primarily trucks and automobiles, that it claims it owns. The Compact is an interstate agreement entered into between New York and New Jersey with the consent of Congress. See N.J. Stat. Ann.§ 32:23-1 et seq.; N.Y. Unconsol. Law § 9801 et seq. (McKinney); Waterfront Commission Compact, ch. 407, 67 Stat. 541 (1953). The Compact, which regulates the employment of waterfront labor in the Port of New York district, established the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor ("the Commission"). See N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:23-7.

The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commission and permanently enjoined appellant, Elizabeth-Newark Shipping ("ENS") from employing unregistered waterfront labor. The court also assessed statutory penalties and fees against ENS. ENS appeals.

II.

ENS purchases cars and trucks in the United States and transports them to Haiti, where the vehicles are then sold. In late 1994, ENS used Construction and Marine Equipment Co. ("CME") as a stevedore to load vehicles onto ships that ENS chartered. Because CME was not a stevedore licensed pursuant to N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:23-12, as required by the Compact, the District Court, following suit by the Waterfront Commission, enjoined CME from acting as a stevedore. See Waterfront Comm'n of N.Y. Harbor v. Construction & Marine Equip. Co., 928 F. Supp. 1388 (D.N.J. 1996). ENS thereupon moved its loading operations to its own facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where it used its own employees to load the goods onto ships, chartered by ENS, bound for Haiti. The parties dispute whether ENS actually owned all of the goods that it shipped. It is undisputed that the labor that ENS used in loading its ships was not registered pursuant to the Compact.

After an investigation, the Commission, in a series of letters to ENS, advised it that although ENS was not required to hold a stevedore's license, the company could not legally employ unlicensed and unregistered waterfront labor for the loading of the ships. When ENS failed to conform its practices as directed, the Commission brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey against ENS, seeking injunctive relief, statutory penalties, and assessments. The District Court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the Commission in September 1996. In May 1998, the District Court granted the Commission's motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoined ENS from employing unlicensed pier superintendents and unregistered longshoremen for the loading of its ships. See Waterfront Comm'n of N.Y. Harbor v. Elizabeth-Newark Shipping, Inc., 3 F. Supp. 2d 500 (D.N.J. 1998). ENS timely filed this appeal.

Subject-matter jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Although the Compact is a creature of state legislatures, it is federalized by virtue of congressional approval pursuant to the Compact Clause of the Constitution, art. I, § 10, cl. 3. See Carchman v. Nash, 473 U.S. 716, 719 (1985) ("[A] congressionally sanctioned interstate compact within the Compact Clause . . . is a federal law subject to federal construction."); Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 440 (1981) ("[W]here Congress has authorized the States to enter into a cooperative agreement, and where the subject matter of that agreement is an appropriate subject for congressional legislation, the consent of Congress transforms the States' agreement into federal law under the Compact Clause.").

We have appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Our review of the District Court's grant of summary judgment is plenary.

III.

The Compact was enacted to eliminate corrupt hiring practices on the New York Harbor waterfront. See Hazelton v. Murray, 21 N.J. 115, 120-23, 121 A.2d 1, 3-5 (1956) (reviewing legislative history). To this end, the Compact regulates the employment of waterfront labor by, inter alia, requiring that stevedoring companies and pier superintendents be licensed by the Commission in order to perform their functions in the Port of New York District,*fn1 and that laborers be placed on the Commission's register of longshoremen before they can load and unload waterborne freight in the district. See N.J. Stat. Ann.§§ 32:23-19 (stevedores), 32:23-12 (pier superintendents), 32:23-27 (longshoremen). The Commission may refuse, revoke or suspend registration to longshoremen with certain criminal backgrounds or who constitute a danger to public peace and safety. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 32:23-29, -31, and -45 to -51. The Commission may seek civil penalties and injunctive relief for violations of the Compact's requirements. See N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 32:23-89 (civil penalties), 32:23-90 (civil enforcement).

The parties disagree as to whether ENS falls within the regulatory purview of the Compact. The principal dispute between the parties concerns whether ENS is a "carrier of freight by water" within the intendment of the Compact, and thus subject to its requirements with respect to waterfront labor. The parties are, however, united in their disagreement with the reasoning of the District Court, which concluded that the controversy could be decided without reference to that term.

A.

The Compact provides that "no person shall employ another to work as a longshoreman within the Port of New York district unless at the time such other person is included in the longshoremen's register." N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:23-27. With respect to pier superintendents, the Compact directs that "no person shall act as a pier superintendent or as a hiring agent within the port of New York district without first having obtained from the commission a license." N.J. Stat. Ann. § 32:23-12. To determine whether a person is a ...


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