Ackman Files Lawsuit Seeking an End to Suspensions without Hearings
On May 5, the Law Office of Daniel Ackman filed a new class action lawsuit in federal court seeking a ruling that the TLC may not suspend a drivers license without a hearing solely based on a driver's arrest. Ackman alleged that the TLC's current practice of suspending without even a cursory review of the alleged incident or the driver's record. Such suspension violate the NYC Administrative Code which requires "good cause" to believe that the driver's licensure to be a direct and substantial threat to public health or safety. The TLC nevertheless summarily suspends more than 1,500 drivers annually without such cause.
Above all, the current TLV practice is gratuitous, pointless and irrational. While supposedly based on the need to protect public health or safety, it has offers no discernible protection to taxi and for-hire vehicle passengers or the public at large. The Complaint alleges that there is no evidence in the historical record (including the long history of the Nnebe Daus litigation) that remotely suggests that a driver who has been arrested is, without more, a direct and substantial threat to public safety going forward. Nor is there any logical reason to believe that a drive who has allegedly committed a crime, especially if off-duty is an actual threat to passengers going forward.
In an earlier decision, the Second Circuit had held that due process did not require a pre-suspension hearing. But the Court also said that the “general rule [is] that a pre-deprivation hearing is required.” Nnebe v. Daus,644 F.3d 147 (2d Cir. 2011) (Nnebe I). The Court based this determination on the factual assertion, as Nnebe II put it, that at the time of the initial suspension (usually within a day of the arrest), “little was known about the driver and the charged crime.”
But since that ruling much new evidence has come to light indicating, among other relevant factors:
(a) that the TLC can easily learn the basic facts of the alleged crimes, but deliberately chooses not remain ignorant;
(b) that very few of the drivers who it suspends have any prior criminal record or have any mark in their TLC record indicating that they pose any threat to passengers or the public at large;
(c) that the TLC knows that the vast majority of drivers who are arrested will have their criminal charges dismissed or reduced;
(d) that the TLC will ultimately reinstate these drivers without any inquiry into the circumstance of the alleged crime;
(e) that very few driver are re-arrested while their criminal charges are pending; and
(f) that only a tiny percentage of arrests involve an alleged offense where a passenger is a victim.
New evidence also demonstrates that in ordering summary suspensions the TLC systemically disregards easily obtained information that would undermine any finding—and would certainly be relevant to any decision to suspend—that a driver's arrest by itself demonstrates that he is a direct and substantial threat to public safety.
A large majority of suspended drivers—most of whom are immigrants unfamiliar with legal processes and rights— do not pursue hearings. Most of these drivers are also reinstated after their arrest charges are favorably resolved. But these reinstatements are often months after their suspensions.
Practice area(s): Class Action