This federal class action successfully challenged a policy instigated by Mayor Giuliani and the TLC—dubbed Operation Refusal— by which the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission suspended hack licenses without hearings, confiscated taxicabs and sought license revocations—all for a single service refusal offense. At least 100 drivers had their licenses revoked; more than 500 were summarily suspended. Judge Dearie held the hearing procedure unconstitutional. Following a ruling signaling that the revocation policy would likely be found illegal as well, the city agreed to a settlement on the eve of trial. By that settlement, the cabdrivers received $121.50 per day for each day they suffered an unconstitutional suspension. Cabbies whose licenses were revoked received an additional $26,000 and were eligible for expedited reinstatement. All fines were to be repaid.
Nnebe v. Daus challenges the TLC’s unwritten rule by which it suspends the license of any taxi drivers who has been arrested and charged with a crime, but convicted of nothing. After the suspension, the TLC offers the cabbie a putative “hearing” to determine whether that suspension should be continued. Even then, the TLC’s handpicked judges disregard the facts and circumstances of the arrest and recommend in virtually every case that the suspension be continued. The TLC Chairman accepts the so-called recommendations without fail. In short, the TLC suspends first and asks questions later—and then ignores the answers.
In May 2011, The Second Circuit Court of Appeals largely vacated a summary judgment ruling in favor of the TLC and remanded the case to the district court for additional fact finding. Aspects of the case were tried before Judge Sullivan in January 2014.
Rothenberg v. Daus challenges the TLC’s practice of automatically revoking the license of any taxi driver are convicted of an off-duty crimes or who fails a drug tests, despite the absence of any evidence, or even allegation, that the driver harmed or threatened harm to any passenger or was ever impaired while on duty. In June 2012, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a district court decision dismissing the case and remanded it back to the lower court.