Lew Fidler Joins Fight To Stop Livery Cab Street Hail Plan, Named As Plaintiff In Lawsuit Against City

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A lawsuit brought by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade against the city for its plan to create a new class of “outerborough” taxicabs was amended on Friday, adding City Councilman Lew Fidler as a plaintiff in the case.

The trade association, which represents the owners of nearly 4,000 taxicabs, has also requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the city from issuing the new medallions before the court decides on whether or not the plan – known as the HAIL Law – is unconstitutional and in violation of the city’s agreement with existing medallion owners.

“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,” Fidler states in his affidavit. “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: “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.”

According to a press release from the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, their legal challenge rests on the following arguments:

  • 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.