LA Superior Court Judge William Highberger ruled this week that AB 5 cannot apply to truckers, writing that the statute is preempted by federal law.

“The record before the Court in this case confirms the common-sense conclusion that AB 5 would have a substantial impact on trucking prices, routes, and services, as motor carriers in California revamp their business models,” Highberger wrote in his decision.

AB 5 enshrines into law the “ABC Test” for distinguishing independent contractors from employees. In practice, AB 5 would bar motor carriers from using independent contractors as drivers which has been a staple business model in the trucking industry.  “The independent contractor relationship … has been a staple of the trucking industry through nearly 70 years of congressional proceedings and court decisions.” Highberger ruled the change constitutes an “impermissible” impact to the trucking industry.

While this is an early victory for the trucking industry, the ruling is not in response to the lawsuit filed by the California Trucking Association (CTA).  Rather,  it is in response to a case opened when California sued motor carriers for allegedly misclassifying workers, an action that preceded the state Supreme Court decision AB 5 enshrined in law.

In December, a US District Judge in San Diego granted a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing AB 5 upon independent truckers while he considers a permanent injunction sought by the CTA.