New York livery car groups won a bid to block a pilot program that would enable people to hail and pay for a ride in one of the city’s 13,000 yellow taxis using location-based smartphone applications.

The measure adopted by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission in December would run for 12 months and exempt areas such as airports that have provisions for taxi lines. While all licensed city cab drivers would be eligible, their participation would be optional.

The Livery Roundtable, Black Car Assistance Corp. and several car-service firms sued the TLC in February, claiming the program violates city codes and may let drivers discriminate against racial minorities based on their names or locations, as well as the elderly, who are less likely to own smartphones.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Carole Huff in Manhattan last week dismissed the lawsuit and lifted her March 7 order blocking the program. Today, Associate Justice Helen E. Freedman of the Appellate Division, First Department, issued an emergency injunction blocking the program from going forward and ordered expedited review by a full panel of appeals court judges, Randy Mastro, an attorney for the livery cab companies with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, said in an e-mail.

Mastro said he expects the appeals court to hear arguments on the case this month.

‘Fundamentally Flawed’

“This faux ‘pilot program’ is so fundamentally flawed and illegal in so many respects that it had to be stopped,” Mastro said in an e-mail. “And now it once again has been.”

Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, said in an e-mail that she had no immediate comment on today’s ruling, which couldn’t be verified in court records right away.

South of Manhattan’s 59th Street, the smartphone program would be restricted to pickups within a half-mile (0.8 kilometer) range, according to Huff’s decision. Elsewhere in the city, the range would extend to 1 1/2 miles. Smartphone application providers would be subject to Taxi & Limousine Commission approval.

The commission today said it approved Hailo Network USA Inc. as the second participant in the program, joining Uber Technologies Inc.

The case is Black Car Assistance Corp. v. City of New York, 100327-2013, Supreme Court for the State of New York, County of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York State Supreme Court at


Category: Blog, New York City

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