Case Files


November 2023

On November 13, ten taxi drivers whose licenses were summarily suspended by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission appeared before a federal jury in Manhattan seeking damages in a civil rights lawsuit that dates back to 2006—and the jury ruled in favor of all ten and awarded each substantial damages. The ten drivers' cases had been picked at random by the court to be tried from a class of more than 20,000, serving as a kind of bellwether. 

The trial was the latest battle in 16-year legal war fought by Dan Ackman and then on appeal by Ackman and David Goldberg.The lawsuit, titled Nnebe v. Daus, challenged the TLC's practice of suspending drivers who are arrested—not convicted—usually on misdemeanor charges for alleged off-duty crimes. The drivers were allowed hearings after their suspensions, not before. But in 2019, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that even the post-suspension hearings were shams that rubber-stamped the original suspensions, thus denying the drivers' constitutional rights and entitling them to compensatory damages. 

The appeal court's 60-page decision noted that a large majority of the drivers the TLC suspended over the years were later reinstated with no further investigation by the agency. It concluded that “in light of the significant private interest at stake, the unacceptably high risk of erroneous deprivation, and the fact that additional safeguards can be provided with minimal burden, the TLC's refusal to consider [relevant] evidence violates due process.” Later district court judge Richard J. Sullivan, who had twice dismissed the driver's claims and was twice reversed, certified the case as a class action.

In a trial this week, 10 drivers, selected at random by the clerk of the southern district federal court, asked a jury to award them damages. 

The drivers facing the jury were suspended between 2008 and 2019 mostly on misdemeanor assault and weapons allegations. None were ever convicted on the charges that led to their taxi licenses being yanked. At the time, city judges who presided over taxi driver post suspension hearings did not weigh any evidence that the driver might not be guilty of the charges. Nor did they consider anything about the driver's individual record or background. So long as the driver had been arrested and a charge was pending, the suspension was certain to be extended. 

The jury (which included a Wharton professor and a rabbi) ruled that if the ten drivers received fair hearings all of them would have been reinstated. Thus all were entitled to back pay.

The drivers were represented at trial by Ackman, Goldberg, a distinguished appellate lawyer and Shannon Liss-Riordan and Brad Manewith of Lichten & Liss-Riorddan, PC, a
labor law firm based in Boston.


Practice area(s): Administrative Law, Constitutional Law

Court: SDNY

Daniel Ackman

D​​an Ackman focuses on civil rights, administrative and constitutional class action litigation. Perhaps best known for representing New York City's taxi drivers in a series of civil rights class action lawsuits, Ackman's cases have resulted in a half dozen City practices being declared unconstitutional.