4:35 pm Apr. 3, 20123
In late November, the Committee for Taxi Safety, which represents medallion owners, filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission, asking a judge to rule that the city’s awarding “of the Taxi of Tomorrow contract to Nissan was arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.”
Last month, the plaintiff withdrew the case.
“On March 14 the case was withdrawn without prejudice to re-file,” Allan Fromberg, spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, confirmed to Capital.
It's not quite clear why, but a representative for the plaintiffs told Capital it was withdrawn on procedural grounds: the city has yet to formally sign a contract with Nissan, and so the Committee was seeking to overturn something that does not yet exist.
Starting in late 2013, all taxi medallion owners will have to purchase the so-called “Taxi of Tomorrow," a Nissan NV200, which resembles a minivan, and has transparent roofs, passenger USB chargers, sliding doors and extra headroom. But in the suit, the plaintiff alleges that it was unwise for the city to require medallion owners to purchase vehicles that use “outmoded engineering, design and technology.”
“The NV200 does not appear to be ruggedly built and therefore may not be able to remain in good repair over many miles of rough driving on the poorly maintained streets of New York City," argued the Committee's high-powered Paul, Weiss attorneys. "Restricting taxi medallion drivers to one and only one type of car deprives drivers and riders of options that might better suit their individual preferences. And because the Taxi of Tomorrow is sole-sourced from a Japanese manufacturer, if any problems arise with the vehicle—such as mechanical issues, recalls or manufacturing delays—New York City taxi drivers and riders could find themselves facing a shortage of operable taxis.”
This evening, though the city has yet to sign that contract with Nissan, Mayor Bloomberg will join Nissan C.E.O. Carlos Ghosn to formally unveil a vehicle which promises to impose boxy uniformity on New York City's variegated taxi fleet.
The suit was one of two legal actions threatening to stall the city’s revamped taxi policies. The other lawsuit, Noel v. TLC, challenges the city’s use of non-wheelchair-accessible vehicles, arguing that in so doing, it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (the Taxi of Tomorrow, like most New York City taxis today, cannot accommodate wheelchairs). In December, a judge broadened that suit to also encompass the mayor’s borough taxi plans. That court case is still playing out.
And so the withdrawal of the Committee's suit amounts to a reprieve, though perhaps only a temporary one.
According to a representative for the plaintiff, the plaintiffs may soon sue again, once there’s a concrete contract they can try to overturn.
Asked about the status of the lawsuit earlier today, Committee for Taxi Safety executive director David Pollack would only say, “It’s probably not a good time to talk about that, with the mayor doing his thing tonight.”
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