United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
Boston Taxi Owners Association, Inc. and Steven Goldberg Plaintiffs,
Governor Charles Baker, Angela M. O'Connor, Jolette A. Westbrook, Robert Hayden, Stephanie Pollack, Thomas P. Glynn and David M. Gibbons Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
NATHANIEL M. GORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out of a purported dispute between taxicab
medallion owners, Boston Taxi Owners Association, Inc. and
Stephen Goldberg (“plaintiffs”), and
Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker and six other defendants
who represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the
Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts Convention
Center Authority. Plaintiff's complaint about the
Commonwealth's decision to apply a regulatory scheme to
transportation network companies (“TNCs”)
different from that applied to taxicabs by several
filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in November,
2016, and defendants separately moved to dismiss the case for
failure to state a claim. For the following reasons,
plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction will be
denied and defendants' separate motions to dismiss will
Local Regulation of the Taxi Industry
primary sources of regulation for the taxicab industry are
the municipalities which are authorized by M.G.L. c. 40,
§ 22 to regulate local taxi businesses. As a result,
taxis are subject to a variety of regulatory schemes.
City of Boston specifically, the Police Commissioner
(“the Commissioner”) exercises that regulatory
authority. The Commissioner requires anyone who drives or is
“in charge of” a “hackney carriage”
(i.e. taxicab) to possess a license known as a “taxicab
2008, the Commissioner issued a comprehensive set of taxicab
regulations under Boston Police Department Rule 403
(“Rule 403”). Rule 403 defines a taxicab as
[a] vehicle used or designed to be used for the conveyance of
persons for hire from place to place within the City of
its inception, Rule 403 has not been applied to livery
vehicles, despite the fact that the rule's broad
definition of a taxicab would seem to encompass them.
rule requires all taxicab operators, inter alia, to
possess a medallion, maintain a properly equipped and
functioning taxicab, display a hackney carriage license at
all times, refrain from cell phone use while operating a
taxicab and belong to an approved dispatch service or
“radio association.” Rule 403 also sets out the
approved manner in which a taxicab in the City can engage
in 2012, transportation network companies such as Uber, Lyft
and Sidecar began operations in Boston and surrounding
communities. The cellular phone, app-based, for-hire
transportation services have quickly gained popularity and
serve as an alternative to traditional taxicab or livery
services. The new companies rely, to varying degrees, on
drivers who provide pre-arranged transportation services in
their own private vehicles.
City of Boston did not issue regulations specifically
targeted at such companies nor did it enforce Rule 403
State Regulation of TNCs
July, 2016, the General Court enacted and the Governor of
Massachusetts signed into law a comprehensive statute, M.G.L.
ch. 159A½ (“the Act”), regulating TNCs at
the state level.
defines a TNC as
a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other
entity that uses a digital network to connect riders to
drivers to pre-arrange and provide transportation.
Id. § 1. The Act also delegates regulation of
TNCs to a new state “division” within the
Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
(“DPU”). Id. § 2. That division
implements insurance requirements, monitors fare estimates,
ensures the safety and annual inspection of TNC vehicles and
monitors the accommodation of riders with special needs.
Id. The division also issues permits, which must be
annually renewed, to TNCs and it has the power to conduct
hearings and impose penalties on TNCs which are noncompliant
with the Act. Id. §§ 3, 6.
the Act ostensibly removes TNCs from local regulation.
Section 10 provides, in part:
[N]o municipality or other local or state entity, except the
Massachusetts Port Authority . . . may subject a [TNC] to the
municipality's or other local or state entity's rate
or other requirements . . . .
M.G.L. ch. 159A½, § 10. The Act does not,
however, prevent municipalities from regulating
“traffic flow and traffic patterns to ensure public
safety and convenience.” Id.
September, 2016, plaintiffs filed a five-count complaint, in
which they allege violations of the Takings Clause (Count IV)
and “due process/equal protection” provisions
(Count V) of the United States Constitution. So-called Counts
I (declaratory judgment), II (injunctive relief) and III
(damages) simply describe plaintiffs' requested relief.
Plaintiffs subsequently moved for a preliminary injunction to
direct defendants to suspend enforcement of M.G.L. ch.
159A½ and to regulate TNCs under the local taxicab
regulations, namely Rule 403.
David M. Gibbons, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts
Convention Center Authority (“MCCA”) responded to
plaintiffs' complaint in October, 2016, with a motion to
dismiss for lack of standing and failure to state a claim.
December, 2016, defendants 1) Governor Baker, 2) Angela M.
O'Connor, Jolette A. Westbrook and Robert Hayden,
representatives of the DPU and 3) Stephanie Pollack,
Transportation Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of
Transportation, jointly moved to dismiss plaintiffs'
complaint. That same day, defendant Thomas P. Glynn, Chief
Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority
(“Massport”) filed his own motion to dismiss
plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim.
motion for a preliminary injunction and defendants'
motions to dismiss ...