University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Noel v. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission DR-NY-0003
Docket / Court 11-cv-237 (GBD) ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s)
Case Summary
On January 13, 2011, New York wheelchair users and several disability rights organizations filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) under the Americans with ... read more >
On January 13, 2011, New York wheelchair users and several disability rights organizations filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Represented by Disabilities Right Advocates, the plaintiffs claimed the TLC failed to give meaningful access to persons with disabilities when issuing its regulations for the design of the next generation of NYC taxicabs.

According to the complaint, only 1.8% of taxis were accessible to persons with mobility disabilities, which deprived them of meaningful access to New York City without using more expensive alternatives. In addition, the Taxi & Limousine Commission had recently approved of specific Nissan models of SUVs and hybrid automobiles for the next generation of NYC taxicabs. The complaint alleged that the SUVs were too high for wheelchair access and that the hybrids' trunk space could not accommodate a wheelchair, including the folding model.

The TLC responded in early March by filing a motion to dismiss. Judge George B. Daniels held an oral argument over the motion and denied the TLC's motion, as well as their motion for interlocutory appeal. The case proceeded with discovery and, on August 10, 2011, Judge Daniels granted the plaintiff's motion for class certification.

The plaintiffs then filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The defendants filed a cross motion for summary judgment, and several interested parties filed Amicus Curiae briefs in response to the motion. On December 23, 2011, Judge Daniels entered partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, holding the defendants liable under Title II of the ADA, and granted plaintiffs a temporary restraining order. The order required all new taxi medallions and livery services to be limited to accessible vehicles until TLC came up with a plan for meaningful access to persons who use wheelchairs. 837 F.Supp.2d 268.

The defendants filed another interlocutory appeal, which was granted. The injunction was stayed pending the appeal. On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated both the temporary restraining order and the partial summary judgment. The Court concluded that although the TLC exercised "pervasive control" over the taxi industry in New York City, it was not mandated by Title II to provide meaningful access to taxis. 687 F.3d 63.

The case was remanded to determine the plaintiffs' claims under Title II(B) (which governs public transportation), the Rehab Act, and the New York City Human Rights Law. The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint and another motion for partial summary judgment. The district court heard oral arguments on the motion for summary judgment on October 11, 2013. The parties entered settlement discussions shortly thereafter, and as a result the court did not make a formal ruling on the matter.

Instead, on February 18, 2014, the court terminated the summary judgment motion as moot due to settlement, which was approved by Judge Daniels on June 10, 2014.

In the settlement, TLC agreed that at least 50% of the new taxicab vehicles put into circulation from the time of the settlement until the year 2020 would be wheelchair accessible, with the goal of having 50% of the fleet accessible by 2020. The defendants also agreed to regularly report their progress to the plaintiffs.

The parties did not agree on attorneys fees in the settlement, and the matter was subsequently referred to the court-annexed mediation program by Judge Daniels. Before the completion of the mediation, however, the parties reached a private agreement on fees, and the case was closed.

Deirdre Aaron - 06/28/2012
Kathryn DeLong - 07/03/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Reasonable Accommodation
Reporting
Defendant-type
Transportation
Disability
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Access to public accommodations - privately owned
Barrier Removal
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
Plaintiff Description New York City Residents who rely on wheelchairs for mobility
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:11-cv-00237-GBD (S.D.N.Y.) 12/15/2015
DR-NY-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Discrimination Injunctive and Declaratory Relief 01/13/2011
DR-NY-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Order (denying motion to dismiss) 05/25/2011 (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order Granting Class Certification 08/10/2011
DR-NY-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Press Release 12/23/2011
DR-NY-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Order and Decision (granting summary judgment to plaintiffs) 12/23/2011 (837 F.Supp.2d 268) (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0003-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion (2nd Cir. vacating TRO) 06/28/2012 (687 F.3d 63)
DR-NY-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 04/05/2013
DR-NY-0003-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 06/06/2014
DR-NY-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Daniels, George B. (S.D.N.Y.)
DR-NY-0003-0004 | DR-NY-0003-0005 | DR-NY-0003-0007 | DR-NY-0003-0012 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Freeman, Debra Carol (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
DR-NY-0003-9000
Jacobs, Dennis G. (Second Circuit)
DR-NY-0003-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brooks, Molly A. (New York)
DR-NY-0003-0003
Brown, Daniel L (New York)
DR-NY-0003-9000
Fishel, Allegra L. (New York)
DR-NY-0003-0003 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Janssen, Kara J. (California)
DR-NY-0003-0011
Pinover, Julia (New York)
DR-NY-0003-0003 | DR-NY-0003-0007 | DR-NY-0003-0011 | DR-NY-0003-0012 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Smith, Mary-Lee Kimber (California)
DR-NY-0003-0011 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Sussman, Dana (New York)
DR-NY-0003-0003 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Werner, Kara Jane (California)
DR-NY-0003-9000
Williford, Rebecca S. (California)
DR-NY-0003-0003
Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)
DR-NY-0003-0003 | DR-NY-0003-0011 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Binder, Robin (New York)
DR-NY-0003-0007 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Goldberg-Cahn, Michelle L. (New York)
DR-NY-0003-0012 | DR-NY-0003-9000
Kaplan, Roberta A. (New York)
DR-NY-0003-9000
Tarnofsky, Robyn F. (New York)
DR-NY-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Emery, Richard D. (New York)
DR-NY-0003-9000

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