On Friday, May 18 in New York State Supreme Court, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT) strengthened its April 18, 2012 complaint against Mayor Bloomberg’s livery street hail and taxi medallion bill, which MTBOT and other plaintiffs have slammed as being “unconstitutional, irresponsible and unconscionable” as well as irreparably harmful for tens of thousands of yellow taxi medallion drivers, owners and their families. MTBOT is asking the Court for a preliminary injunction preventing the City from issuing livery hail permits and the amended complaint adds as a key plaintiff, New York City Council Member Lewis A. Fidler (46th District, Brooklyn) — a staunch opponent of the Mayor’s livery street hail plan from day one.
The amended complaint, which was filed by the law firm of Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady, includes causes of action based on these egregious violations of the New York State Constitution:
- The bypassing of the “home rule message” that has been provided by the New York City Council for every other taxi medallion bill but was ignored for reasons of political expediency.
- Further relinquishment of traditional and constitutionally protected City Council powers to the Mayor with regard to the issuance and regulation of medallions.
- The violation of the “exclusive privileges and immunities” clause which is meant to, among other things, prevent one exclusive group of people from unfairly benefiting financially from a City issued asset – in this case livery hail permits.
New York City Council Member Lewis A. Fidler has spoken out loudly and frequently over the past year, strongly criticizing the plan itself as well as the flawed legislative process that led to the bill’s passage in Albany. In his affidavit, he states: “I have been against the plan to provide outer borough taxi service from the start, as it is a ‘solution in search of a problem.'” In his affidavit, he then quotes from an Op-Ed he wrote in August 2011, stating, “in my 10 years as a City Council member, I have never gotten a call asking me why a citizen can’t hail a cab on the streets of Marine Park.”
The affidavit goes on to state: “I am a Plaintiff in this action, however, not merely because the HAIL Law is a bad policy, but because the HAIL Law is unconstitutional. The HAIL Law violates New York City’s right to Home Rule. Most fundamentally, it interferes with the City of New York’s right to regulate taxicabs and liveries and the City Council’s right to decide when to issue new medallions. Instead, the State Legislature has set regulations for livery cabs and has transferred the right to issue new taxicab medallions to the Mayor.”
MTBOT is preparing to file an additional action in federal court, alleging that the HAIL Law constitutes an unlawful “taking’ of the property of medallion owners without just compensation and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Ron Sherman, President of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade stated: “We are bringing this suit on behalf of all the individuals, all the small businesses, all the men and women who are overwhelmed with anxiety, grief and worry over their future as a result of this devastating law, which will completely undermine their livelihood and lifetime investment. We are confident that the Court will affirm our position so that we can put this deeply flawed plan behind us and work quickly to achieve a better plan that provides the City with real revenue, stabilizes the medallion taxi industry and creates real initiatives that improve street hail service in the boroughs.”
There are more than 5,000 individual owner-drivers, 2,000 “mini-fleet” owners comprised of hard-working New Yorkers as well as dozens of taxi medallion businesses that bring millions of dollars to the City economy and provide economic opportunities to tens of thousands of drivers.
The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade is a 59-year old non-profit trade association that represents 33 fleets in 4 boroughs that are comprised of nearly 4,000 yellow medallion taxicabs – the largest taxi fleet association in New York City. MTBOT member fleets lease taxis to more than 16,000 drivers and directly employ hundreds of dispatchers, managers and other personnel.