October 29, 2013
In re Black Car Assistance Corporation, et al., Petitioners-Appellants, The
City of New York, et al., Respondents-Respondents, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, et al., Intervenor-Respondents-Respondents.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, New York (Randy M. Mastro of counsel), for appellants.
Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel, New York (Ronald E. Sternberg of counsel), for respondents.
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, New York (Richard D. Emery of counsel), for inervenor-respondents.
Friedman, J.P., Sweeny, Richter, Manzanet-Daniels, JJ.
Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Carol Huff, J.), entered April 26, 2013, which denied the petition to enjoin the implementation of respondent Taxi and Limousine Commission's (TLC) twelve-month pilot program to allow medallion cabs to arrange passenger pickups via smart phone applications (E-Hail Program), vacated the temporary restraining order, and dismissed the proceeding brought pursuant to CPLR article 78, unanimously affirmed, without costs.
Petitioners, entities that represent or have financial interests in businesses that operate black or livery cars, filed the instant petition for an order declaring the E-hail Program null and void, arguing that respondent TLC exceeded its authority in adopting this program, that provisions of the program improperly depart from applicable provisions of the New York City Administrative Code, and that the program was adopted without complying with procedures required to change rules pursuant to the New York City Administrative Procedure Act (CAPA) and in violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Contrary to petitioners' arguments, the E-Hail Program complies with the plain language of New York City Charter Section 2303(b)(9), as it was adopted for the "limited purpose" of studying the feasability of using smart phone application to hail medallion taxis and for the "limited time" of 12 months.
Additionally, the program complies with Administrative Code § 19-511(a) requiring the licensing of communications systems upon such terms as TLC deems advisable by giving TLC the authority to issue temporary authorizations for the communications systems needed to accept passenger hails electronically, as those authorizations function as temporary, limited licenses appropriate for a pilot program.
Further, we find that to the extent the E-Hail Program allows drivers to ignore electronic hail requests or to cancel previously accepted requests in favor of street hails, this does not violate Administrative Code § 19-507(a)(2), which prohibits drivers from refusing, "without justifiable grounds, to take any passenger or prospective passenger to any destination within the city." We also find that the program was properly adopted, is not in violation of SEQRA and, as a temporary and voluntary pilot program, is not subject to CAPA procedural requirements.