United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
Cambridge Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, Inc. Plaintiff,
City of Cambridge, Nicole Murati Ferrer, E. Denise Simmons, Christopher Burke and Richard Rossi Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge.
case involves a dispute between Cambridge Taxi Drivers and
Owners Association, Inc. (“plaintiff”) and the
City of Cambridge, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons, the
Chair of the Cambridge License Commission, Nicole Murati
Ferrer, Cambridge Police Commissioner Christopher Burke and
Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi (collectively,
“defendants” or “the City”). The
plaintiff protests the City's decision not to apply the
same regulatory framework to transportation network companies
(“TNCs”) as it currently applies to taxicabs.
has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and
defendants have responded with a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. For the following reasons,
plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction will be
denied and defendants' motion to dismiss will be allowed.
City Regulation of the Taxi Industry
to state statute, the taxicab industry in the City of
Cambridge (“the City” or “Cambridge”)
is regulated by the Cambridge License Commission (“the
Commission”). In exercising that authority, the
Commission requires anyone who drives a taxicab to possess a
license known as a “taxicab medallion.” The City
has capped the number of medallions at 257.
City has promulgated a comprehensive set of so called Taxicab
Rules and Regulations (“Taxicab Regulations”).
Those regulations define a taxicab as
[a] motor vehicle licensed and approved by the License
Commission to carry passengers and articles, and is
authorized to accept street hails from persons in the street.
Taxicab Regulations require all taxicab operators, inter
alia, to possess a medallion, meet a minimum age
requirement, pay certain taxes and supply their contact
information to the Commission. The Taxicab Regulations also
describe the approved manner in which a taxicab in the City
can engage customers.
in 2012, 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 Cambridge has neither issued regulations specifically
targeted at such companies nor enforced the Taxicab
Regulations against them.
State Regulation of TNCs
July, 2016, the Massachusetts 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. 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.
June, 2016, plaintiff filed a five-count complaint, in which
they allege substantive claims for 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. On the same day, plaintiff
also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to direct
defendants to regulate TNCs in accordance with the local
responded in August, 2016, with a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim. Both pending motions ...