BY THE COURT
permanently bolted to a truck chassis and associated
necessary tools do not qualify as cargo under 49 U.S.C.
§ 31101(1) (2012), and the truck itself thus does not
qualify as a commercial motor vehicle under the federal
Unified Carrier Registration Act.
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in an unpublished
opinion filed August 5, 2016. Appeal from Shawnee District
Court; Rebecca W. Crotty, judge. Judgment of the Court of
Appeals affirming the district court is reversed. Judgment of
the district court is reversed.
S. Brack, of MDP Services, LLC, of Overland Park, argued the
cause and was on the briefs for appellant.
Lee Kirk, deputy general counsel, Kansas Corporation
Commission, argued the cause and was on the briefs for
appeal concerns whether a truck with a crane permanently
attached to it qualifies as a commercial vehicle subject to
registration and fee payment under the federal Unified
Carrier Registration Act (UCR). See 49 U.S.C. § 14504a
(2012). The answer to this question turns on whether the
crane and associated tools qualify as "cargo, " as
that term is used in the Act. Because the crane and
associated tools are not cargo, the truck is not a commercial
vehicle subject to the registration and fee requirements.
and Procedural History
Midwest Crane & Rigging, LLC, is a contractor that
provides a "crane service." One of its employees
was stopped by Kansas Highway Patrol Master Trooper
Christopher Beas. Beas had noticed that the truck the
employee was driving did not have a license plate. He
identified the truck as part of Midwest's fleet,
photographed the truck, documented the stop, and identified
two possible violations: (1) failure to pay a UCR fee, and
(2) failure to display a current license plate.
truck's only purpose was to provide the crane service. It
has a crane permanently attached to its chassis. The driver
was headed to a job site where the crane was to be used to
hoist a large air conditioning unit onto the roof of a
building. Otherwise the truck carried only the tools
necessary to operate the crane, such as cables, shackles, and
a spreader beam.
license plate violation was dismissed after Midwest
established that the truck was exempt from registration
requirements, because it is classified as a self-propelled
crane. See K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 8-128(b); State v.
Zeit, 39 Kan.App.2d 364, 180 P.3d 1068 (2008). But the
UCR issue remained, and the Kansas Corporation Commission
fined Midwest $300 for failure to register and pay the fee
required by the Act. See 49 U.S.C. §
requested a hearing to challenge the UCR violation.
resulting administrative hearing focused on whether the truck
qualified as a commercial motor vehicle under the Act, which
requires a "motor carrier" to pay a fee based on
the size of its fleet of "commercial motor
vehicles." The debate largely centered on the meaning of
"cargo, " as used in the definition of
"commercial motor vehicle" under the Act. See 49
U.S.C. § 31101(1) (2012) ("'commercial motor
vehicle' means . . . a self-propelled or towed vehicle
used on the highways in commerce principally to transport
passengers or cargo" [emphasis added]).
is included as a part of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement
Act (MCSIA). The Commission considered not only the
definition of commercial motor vehicle from the UCR but also
a second definition of commercial motor vehicle from a
different subsection of the MCSIA. See 49 U.S.C. §
31132(1) (2012) (subchapter III- Safety Regulations:
"'commercial motor vehicle' means a