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