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E-Hail Verified Petition

E-Hail Verified Petition

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Published by Patrick Clark
Lawsuit filed by organizations representing the black car and livery industry to prevent New York City's Taxi & Limousine Commission from launching a pilot program for e-hailing apps for yellow taxis.
Lawsuit filed by organizations representing the black car and livery industry to prevent New York City's Taxi & Limousine Commission from launching a pilot program for e-hailing apps for yellow taxis.

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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: Patrick Clark on Feb 14, 2013
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02/14/2013

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 SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF NEW YORK - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - BLACK CAR ASSISTANCE CORPORATION,THE LIVERY ROUND TABLE, INC., DIAL 7CAR & LIMOUSINE SERVICE, INC., DIALCAR, INC., ELITE LIMOUSINE PLUS, INC.,FAST OPERATING CORP. DBA CARMEL CAR AND LIMOUSINE SERVICE, INTA-BOROACRES, INC., LOVE CORPORATE CAR INC.,ROYAL DISPATCH SERVICES, INC., VITALTRANSPORTATION, INC., ARTHUR HARRIS,and ALEXANDER REYF.Petitioners,- against -THE CITY OF NEW YORK; MICHAEL R.BLOOMBERG, in his official capacity as Mayor of  New York City; the NEW YORK CITY TAXI &LIMOUSINE COMMISSION, a charter-mandatedagency; and DAVID YASSKY, in his officialcapacity as Chairman and Commissioner of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission,Respondents.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x:::::::::::::::::::::::xIndex No.IAS PartJustice
VERIFIED PETITION
Petitioners Black Car Assistance Corporation, The Livery Roundtable, Dial 7 Car &Limousine Service Inc., Dial Car, Inc., Elite Limousine Plus, Inc., Fast Operating Corp. dbaCarmel Car and Limousine Service, Inta-Boro Acres, Inc., Love Corporate Car Inc., RoyalDispatch Services, Inc., Vital Transportation, Inc., Arthur Harris, and Alexander Reyf, by andthrough their attorneys, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, as and for their Verified Petition, allegeas follows:
 
 2
NATURE OF THE PROCEEDING
1.
 
This case concerns the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (“TLC”)once again overstepping the bounds of its limited regulatory authority in an effort to remake NewYork City’s private for-hire vehicle industry, even when its policy whims cannot be squared withthe City Charter, the Administrative Code, proper procedure, and other governing law. In thelatest example of its “legislation-by-fiat” hubris, the TLC, having first failed to garner enoughCommissioners’ votes to enact a permanent rule change, then arbitrarily and capriciouslyrammed through—without any public notice or opportunity for public comment—an even more problematic program, but just as sweeping, in substance and scope, in the guise of a so-called “e-hail” pilot program (the “E-Hail Program” or the “Program”) that permits medallion taxicabs(“taxis” or “cabs”) for the first time ever to accept or reject requests for rides from potential passengers through in-car “smartphone” applications (or “e-hails”). In authorizing medalliontaxi drivers “not” to “accept” ride requests (either “through active or passive action”), amongother shortcomings, the Program sharply conflicts with, and wholly undermines, the carefulregulatory structure imposed by the City Council to protect prospective passengers fromdiscriminatory ride refusals on the basis of race and destination.
See
N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 19-507(a)(2) (prohibiting taxi drivers from refusing, “without justifiable grounds, to take any passenger or prospective passenger to any destination within the city”).2.
 
The E-Hail Program also runs roughshod over the express, codified will of the CityCouncil in that it authorizes the use of smartphone applications to electronically connect taxidrivers and passengers—who are separated by as many as 1.5 miles—without requiringcompliance with statutory licensure requirements that the City Council has imposed for communications systems used for dispatching. And it fundamentally overhauls the City’s long-
 
 3standing transportation policy that has drawn a clear, bright-line between medallion taxisexclusively authorized to pick up “street hails,” on the one hand, and for-hire black cars andliveries authorized to make pick-ups by appointment or dispatch, on the other hand. The TLCsimply does not have the authority, unilaterally and without prior public notice, to effect suchfundamental changes in the City’s for-hire vehicle system without the approval of the CityCouncil. N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 19-503(b).3.
 
Indeed, less than two years ago, when considering the very issues that Petitionersnow raise in this lawsuit, the TLC itself concluded—consistent with the Administrative Code— that taxi drivers are “NOT permitted to use smartphone apps for dispatch.” In addition, the E-Hail Program purports to “exempt” drivers who use an authorized e-hail application from acritical TLC safety rule, which—under the heading “Passenger and Driver Safety”—forbids ataxi driver from using “any function of an Electronic Communication Device in any way” while“operating a Vehicle.” Now, however, anxious to push through this far-reaching program whilestill in office, under the guise of a sweeskirtping, year-long “pilot” program that is anything but a“pilot,” TLC Chair David Yassky has flouted applicable legal and statutory standards,exacerbated discrimination concerns, jeopardized public safety, and violated the rights of Petitioners in several immediate and irreparable respects.4.
 
This Court should strike down the E-Hail Program and enjoin it from goingforward for each and every one of the following reasons:5.
 
 Administrative code violations
:
 
In violating one fundamental provision of theAdministrative Code and flying in the face of another, the E-Hail Program effectively reinstitutesa system that the City Council chose to eliminate two decades ago because it facilitated racialand destination discrimination and created a shortage of taxis available for street hail. Prior to

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