Singh et al v.Joshi et al
MEMORANDUM & ORDER: The plaintiffs motions 69 ; 76 & 78 for reconsideration are denied and the defendants motion 27 for summary judgment is granted. Consequently, the plaintiffs motion 67 for partial summary judgment is denied and their motion 29 to certify a class is denied as moot. The clerk is directed to enter judgment dismissing the case. Ordered by Judge Frederic Block on 8/15/2016. (Innelli, Michael)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
JASWINDER SINGH, BALBIR NAGI,
MAN SINGH and NYC YELLOW CAB
DRIVERS ASSOCIATION, INC.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MEERA JOSHI, THE NEW YORK
CITY TAXI AND LIMOUSINE
COMMISSION, BILL DE BLASIO and
THE CITY OF NEW YORK,
For the Plaintiffs:
DANIEL L. ACKMAN, ESQ.
222 Broadway, 19th Floor
New York, New York 10038
ANDREW ST. LAURENT, ESQ.
Harris, St. Laurent &Chaudhry LLP
40 Wall Street, 53rd Floor
New York, New York 10005
For the Defendants:
ZACHARY W. CARTER, ESQ.
Corporation Counsel of the
City of New York
100 Church Street
New York, New York 10007
SHERYL NEUFELD, ESQ.
KAREN SELVIN, ESQ.
SAMANTHA SCHONFIELD, ESQ.
For Amici Curiae The Taxis for All
Campaign, The 504 Democratic Club, and
Disabled in Action
DANIEL L. BROWN, ESQ.
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112
BLOCK, Senior District Judge:
Earlier this year, the Court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary
injunction. See Singh v. Joshi, 152 F. Supp. 3d 112 (E.D.N.Y. 2016). The factual
background of the case and the Court’s legal analysis are set forth in full in that
decision. In sum, the Court upheld rules promulgated by the New York City Taxi and
Limousine Commission (“TLC”) to increase the availability of wheelchair-accessible
yellow cabs against challenges under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses
of the Fourteenth Amendment. With respect to due process, it held that “the
rulemaking afforded a meaningful opportunity to be heard and, therefore, that the
rules resulting from it comport with due process.” Id. at 125. With respect to equal
protection, it held that the various distinctions created by the rules were rational and
not arbitrary. See id. at 125-27.
The plaintiffs further challenged the regulations under (1) the constitutional
prohibition against the taking of property without just compensation, and (2) Article
78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules. The prior decision did not address
those claims because they did not form the basis for the plaintiffs’ request for
preliminary injunctive relief.
The plaintiffs now move for reconsideration of several matters they claim the
Court overlooked or misapprehended. They also move to certify a class, and for
summary judgment on two of their claims. For their part, the defendants move for
summary judgment on all claims.
For the following reasons, the Court denies reconsideration and grants the
defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
I. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Reconsideration
In their motion for reconsideration, the plaintiffs first argue that the Court
misapprehended the scope of TLC’s regulatory authority over black cars. The prior
decision states: “Given the substantial difference in the scope of TLC’s regulatory
authority over black cars versus yellow cabs, it is not apparent that TLC could require
black-car licensees to use a particular vehicle by a particular date even if it wanted to.”
Singh, 152 F. Supp. 3d at 126. The plaintiffs argue that the TLC’s authority over
both yellow cabs and black cars is coextensive.
The Court’s statement was accurate. While the plaintiffs are correct that TLC
exercises jurisdiction over all for-hire vehicles in New York City, requiring black-car
services to use a particular vehicle would be an unprecedented exercise of that
jurisdiction. More importantly, the statement was not dispositive. As explained in the
prior decision, even assuming that TLC could require black cars to use a particular
vehicle, there is a rational basis for having different disability mandates. Since black
cars operate through a dispatch system, customers can request an accessible vehicle
in advance; since there is no corresponding mechanism for street hails, it was rational
for TLC to conclude that an increased number of yellow cabs was necessary. See id.
(“The decision to impose new accessibility requirements on yellow cabs is . . . a
recognition that street hailing is a key component of the taxi transportation system,
particularly in central Manhattan[.]”).
The balance of the plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration is centered on the
distinction between yellow cabs and “e-hail” services such as Uber. They present this
distinction in several ways. First, they argue that the Court failed to acknowledge a
study by the Mayor’s Office finding that “[w]ith the quick arrival of a car at the tap
of a button, the distinctions that yielded different regulatory treatment across black
cars and yellow cars are less relevant.” Office of the Mayor, City of New York, “ForHire Vehicle Transportation Study” (Jan. 2016), http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/
operations/downloads/pdf/ For-Hire-Vehicle-Transportation-Study.pdf. They then
fault the defendants for failing to concede several of their allegations regarding the
impact of e-hail services on the industry. Finally, they point to “new evidence” of that
impact, including recent price cuts by Uber.
The Court noted in the prior decision that the number of black cars “has
drastically increased due to the popularity of services such as Uber.” Singh, 152 F.
Supp. 3d at 118. And it readily agrees that e-hails blur the line between yellow cabs
and black cars, with the latter now able to respond just as quickly—sometimes more
quickly—to a customer standing on a street corner anywhere in New York City.
No matter how quickly a car hailed with Uber responds, however, it is still
different from a street hail in one respect. The difference is, in essence, the same as
that between yellow cabs and non-Uber black cars: Whether through a central
dispatcher or a mobile app, there is a means by which a customer can request an
accessible vehicle in advance, thus obviating the need for an increase in the sheer
number of accessible black cars on the streets. At least, it was rational for TLC to so
conclude. Thus, the Court adheres to its conclusion that the accessibility mandate for
yellow cabs does not violate equal protection.
II. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment
In the prior decision, the Court “surmise[d] that the likelihood of success on the
merits—or, more accurately, the lack thereof—will ultimately be dispositive in this
case.” Singh, 152 F. Supp. 2d at 124. That prediction has proven correct, as nothing
in the parties’ summary judgment submissions leads the Court to change its
conclusion that the accessibility regulations comport with due process and equal
Although neither the parties nor the Court cited state law during the
preliminary injunction proceedings, the Court’s resolution of the federal equalprotection claim disposes of plaintiffs’ parallel claim under the New York
Constitution. See Brown v. State, 89 N.Y.2d 172, 190 (1996) (“The [equal
protection] provision [of the New York Constitution] was intended to afford
coverage as broad as that provided by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution.”). With respect to due process, the New York Court of
Appeals has said that the state provision “readily support[s] a broader
What remains, then, are the plaintiff’s claims for relief under the takings clauses
of the state and federal constitutions and Article 78.
The Constitution’s Takings Clause was originally understood to apply only to
“a direct appropriation of property” or “the functional equivalent of a practical ouster
of the owner’s possession.” Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003,
1015 (1992) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). In 1922, however, the
Supreme Court first applied it to a regulation that impacted property rights: “The
general rule at least is that while property may be regulated to a certain extent, if
regulation goes too far it will be recognized as a taking.” Pennsylvania Coal Co. v.
Mahon, 260 U.S. 393, 416 (1922).
In the years since Mahon, the Supreme Court has categorized two types of
regulations as per se takings: those that “compel the property owner to suffer a
physical ‘invasion’ of his property,” and those that “den[y] all economically beneficial
or productive use of land.” Lucas, 505 U.S. at 1015-16. All other regulations are
interpretation than the Federal provision,” Under 21 v. City of New York, 65
N.Y.2d 344, 360 n.6 (1985), but that broader interpretation concerns the concept of
state action, which is not at issue here. See Sharrock v. Dell Buick-Cadillac, Inc.,
45 N.Y.2d 152, 160 (1978) (“[T]he absence of any express State action language
simply provides a basis to apply a more flexible State involvement requirement
than is currently being imposed by the Supreme Court with respect to the Federal
evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with three factors of “particular significance”: “(1)
‘the economic impact of the regulation on the claimant’; (2) ‘the extent to which the
regulation has interfered with distinct investment-backed expectations’; and (3) ‘the
character of the governmental action.’” Connolly v. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp., 475
U.S. 211, 224 (1986) (quoting Penn Cent. Transp. Co. v. City of New York, 438 U.S.
104, 124 (1978)).2
Because the Takings Clauses prohibits only the taking of property “without just
compensation,” the Supreme Court has held that a takings claim is not ripe until the
property owner has sought and been denied such compensation. See Williamson Cnty.
Reg’l Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172, 194 (1985). Thus, “if a
State provides an adequate procedure for seeking just compensation, the property
owner cannot claim a violation of the Just Compensation Clause until it has used the
procedure and been denied just compensation.” Id.
The plaintiffs concede that they have not sought compensation for the alleged
diminished value of their medallions, but offer two reasons why they should be
exempt from Williamson County’s exhaustion requirement. First, they argue that the
requirement does not apply because they are seeking declaratory and injunctive
As with equal protection and due process (apart from the concept of state
action), federal takings jurisprudence applies equally to claims under the New
York constitution. See Seawall Assocs. v. City of New York, 74 N.Y.2d 92 (1989)
(considering federal and state takings claims together).
relief—in addition to money damages. In Eastern Enterprises v. Apfel, 524 U.S. 498
(1998), a four-justice plurality endorsed the proposition that the Declaratory Judgment
Act “allows individuals threatened with a taking to seek a declaration of the
constitutionality of the disputed governmental action before potentially
uncompensable damages are sustained.” Id. at 521 (quoting Duke Power Co. v.
Carolina Envtl. Study Grp., 438 U.S. 59, 71 n.15 (1978)). But the plurality’s choice
of words—“potentially uncompensable damages”—is underscored by its observation
that a claim for compensation would, in the circumstances, “entail an utterly pointless
set of activities.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). As plaintiffs’ claim for
damages attests, there is no reason why just compensation would not remedy the
alleged taking here.
Second, the plaintiffs claim that New York has no procedure for seeking just
compensation for a taking of personal property. Although the state’s eminent domain
law applies to only “real property,” N.Y. Em. Dom. Proc. L. § 104, there is also a
direct cause of action available under the New York Constitution. See McCormack
Sand Co. v. Town of N. Hempstead Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth., 960 F. Supp. 589, 595
(E.D.N.Y. 1997) (“New York law provides procedures for obtaining compensation for
the alleged taking [of personal property], including a cause of action for inverse
condemnation under Article I, Section 7 of the New York Constitution.”). In addition,
the Second Circuit has described an Article 78 proceeding as a “constitutionally
sufficient” means for seeking just compensation. Vandor, Inc. v. Militello, 301 F.3d
37, 39 (2d Cir. 2002).
In sum, the plaintiffs must seek just compensation though available state
procedures. Having failed to do so, their takings claims must be dismissed as unripe.
B. Article 78
The plaintiffs raise two claims under Article 78. They argue (1) generally, that
the accessibility regulations are “affected by an error of law or . . . arbitrary and
capricious or an abuse of discretion,” N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 7803, and (2) specifically, that
the regulations are contrary to New York City Administrative Code § 19-533, which
requires TLC to approve a “hybrid electric vehicle” option “for immediate use by all
current and future medallion owners.”3
When he was a district judge, Judge Chin held that “State law does not permit
Article 78 proceedings to be brought in federal court,” and, therefore, that he did “not
have the power to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over [the plaintiff’s] Article 78
claims.” Cartagena v. City of New York, 257 F. Supp. 2d 708, 710 (S.D.N.Y. 2003);
Plaintiffs also incorporate § 19-533 into their equal protection challenge,
arguing that the accessibility regulations “deny plaintiffs equal protection . . . by
denying them the right to operate a hybrid vehicle in contrast to other medallion
owners who continue to be afforded that right.” Am. Compl. ¶ 178. In that
respect, the availability of the “hybrid option” is simply one of the consequences of
being an individual medallion owner selected in the lottery. The rational bases for
distinguishing between individual and corporate owners and lottery winners and
losers were set forth in the prior decision and reaffirmed above.
accord Morningside Supermarket Corp. v. New York State Dep’t of Health, 432 F.
Supp. 2d. 334, 346 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (“It is doubtful, though, that claims under Article
78 are even amenable to a federal district court’s supplemental jurisdiction.”).
The position that federal district courts lack jurisdiction over Article 78
proceedings is not unanimous. See Casale v. Metropolitan Transp. Auth., 2005 WL
3466405, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 19, 2005) (“If [N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 7804] could deprive
federal courts of jurisdiction, state legislatures, not Congress, would control the power
of the federal judiciary.”). But district courts are unanimous that “[t]he very nature
of an Article 78 proceeding presents . . . compelling reasons” for declining to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction, even assuming it exists. Morningside Supermarket, 432 F.
Supp. 2d at 346 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(4)); see also National Fuel Gas Supply
Corp. v. Town of Wales, 904 F. Supp. 2d. 324, 336 (W.D.N.Y. 2012) (“Thus, acting
with or without discretion, district courts in this Circuit refuse to hear Article 78
The Court agrees that the unique nature of an Article 78 proceeding warrants
declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over it. That is particularly true here,
since all of the plaintiffs’ federal claims will be dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3)
(“The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction [if] the district
court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction[.]”).
The plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration is denied and the defendants’ motion
for summary judgment is granted. Consequently, the plaintiffs’ motion for partial
summary judgment is denied and their motion to certify a class is denied as moot. The
clerk is directed to enter judgment dismissing the case.
/S/ Frederic Block___________
Senior United States District Judge
Brooklyn, New York
August 15, 2016
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