Hassan El-Nahal, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellant,
David Yassky, Commissioner Matthew Daus, Michael Bloomberg, The City of New York, Defendants-Appellees.
Argued: December 11, 2014
from a judgment of the United States District Court for the
Southern District of New York (Forrest, J.),
granting summary judgment to Defendants-Appellees, the City
of New York and various of its employees, on
Plaintiff-Appellant Hassan El-Nahal's 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claim that Defendants- Appellees violated his Fourth
Amendment rights by mandating the installation of tracking
systems in taxicabs, thereby trespassing or physically
intruding upon property for the purposes of gathering
information. Because we find no genuine issue of material
fact as to whether a trespass or physical intrusion occurred
with respect to any property of El-Nahal, we conclude that
summary judgment was appropriate, and therefore
AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.
Pooler concurs in part and dissents in part in a separate
L. Ackman, Law Office of Daniel L. Ackman, New York, N.Y.,
Elizabeth S. Natrella, for Zachary W. Carter, Corporation
Counsel of the City of New York (Richard Dearing, Pamela
Seider Dolgow, on the brief), New York, N.Y., for
Before: Pooler, Livingston, and Droney, Circuit Judges.
Ann Livingston, Circuit Judge.
Hassan El-Nahal ("El-Nahal"), a New York City taxi
driver, brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York
(Forrest, J.), principally alleging that the New
York City Taxi and Limousine Commission ("TLC") -
through Defendants- Appellees Matthew Daus, a former chairman
of the TLC; David Yassky, then- chairman of the TLC; Michael
Bloomberg, then-Mayor of New York City; and the City of New
York (collectively, "Defendants") - had deprived
him of his Fourth Amendment rights in various ways. As
relevant to this appeal, El-Nahal argued that the TLC's
mandate that all New York City taxicabs install technology
systems equipped with Global Positioning System
("GPS") tracking abilities amounted to a
property-based search pursuant to United States v.
Jones, 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012), and that this search
violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The District Court
granted summary judgment to Defendants on all of
El-Nahal's Fourth Amendment claims, including his
Jones claim, which is the only issue before us on
appeal. Because the record is devoid of evidence as to
whether El- Nahal had any interest in a taxi at the time of
an alleged trespass or physical intrusion, El-Nahal failed to
make a sufficient showing on an essential element of his
property-based Fourth Amendment claim and Defendants were
entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, we
AFFIRM the district court's grant of
summary judgment to Defendants.
is an agency of the City of New York that is tasked with the
"regulation and supervision of the business and industry
of transportation of persons by licensed vehicles for hire in
the city." N.Y.C., N.Y., Charter ch. 65, § 2303a.
Its duties include the regulation of "rates, "
"standards and conditions of service, "
"[r]equirements of standards of safety and . . .
efficiency in the operation of vehicles and auxiliary
equipment, " and the "establishment of . . . [a]
uniform system of accounts, " which entails "the
right . . . to inspect books and records and to require the
submission of such reports as the commission may
determine." Id. § 2303b. Pursuant to the
New York City Administrative Code, the TLC may promulgate
rules as necessary to implement its authority. N.Y.C., N.Y.,
Code § 19-503(a).
2004, the TLC promulgated a rule requiring that all New York
City taxicabs begin to use a Taxicab Technology System
("TTS"), a physical device located in the backseat
of taxicabs that would, among other things, provide credit
and debit card payment services for customers, as well as
transmit to the TLC electronic data about trips made by taxi
drivers gathered by means of GPS. See N.Y.C., N.Y.,
Rules tit. 35, § 1-01 (2010). Through the TTS, the TLC
would collect - only when drivers were on duty - "the
taxicab license number; the taxicab driver's license
number; the location of trip initiation; the time of trip
initiation; the number of passengers; the location of trip
termination; the time of trip termination; the metered fare
for the trip; and the distance of the trip."
Id. § 3- 06(b). Prior to the implementation of
the TTS rule, the TLC required drivers to provide this same
information in the form of handwritten trip records. The TTS
rule mandated that taxicab medallion owners procure TTSs in
their taxis by August 1, 2007. Id. § 1-11(g).
the same time as the TLC promulgated the TTS rule, the TLC
also established a new system for taxi fare "rate codes,
" corresponding to different types of fares a taxi
driver may charge. Rate Code 1, for instance, is the standard
New York City rate and is used for fares from point-to-point
within New York City. Rate Code 4, meanwhile, doubles the
fare for each additional unit driven, and may be engaged by a
taxi driver only under certain circumstances upon entering
Nassau or Westchester County.
March 2010, the TLC issued a press release announcing that it
had discovered that some taxicab drivers were using the Rate
Code 4 setting to overcharge passengers. "Using GPS
technology installed in taxicabs, " the press release
explained, the "TLC has discovered 1, 872, 078 trips
where passengers were illegally charged the higher rate"
by 35, 558 drivers for a total of $8, 330, 155 in alleged
overcharges. J.A. 135. The press release qualified this
finding by noting that "there were 361 million taxi
trips during that time period, so the illegal fare was only
charged in 0.5% of all trips, " and that the alleged
"scam was primarily perpetrated by a small number of
drivers, with 3, 000 drivers overcharging more than 100
months later, in May 2010, the TLC issued a second press
release that modified its initial findings, announcing that
the "TLC's completed analysis" revealed that
"21, 819 taxicab drivers overcharged passengers a total
of 286, 000 times . . . for a total estimated overcharge of
almost $1.1 million." J.A. 146. The press release added
that the TLC believed that 13, 315 out of the 21, 819 drivers
had "engaged in overcharging just one or two times,
" but that it expected "to be able to prove that
some drivers engaged in 1, 000 or more overcharges."
Id. In response to the scandal, the Manhattan
District Attorney's office arrested 59 drivers "for
defrauding and stealing from their customers, " J.A.
150, and the TLC programmed passenger screens to display
"a highly visible alert that advises riders when the
higher, out of town rate is activated, " J.A. 151. The
TLC also brought administrative actions against many drivers.
those who faced administrative charges was El-Nahal, who at
that point had been a taxi driver for more than twenty years.
On January 3, 2012, the TLC sent El-Nahal a letter directing
him to appear for a settlement conference in reference to
allegations that he overcharged passengers on 10 occasions
between November 20, 2009 and February 22, 2010 by improperly
using the Rate 4 code. El-Nahal contested the allegations. On
May 7, 2012, an administrative law judge found, based on trip
records the TLC allegedly obtained via GPS, that El-Nahal
violated the TLC's rules on six occasions. The
administrative law judge thus imposed upon El-Nahal $550 in
penalties and revoked El-Nahal's TLC license to drive
taxis. On appeal, the Office of Administrative Trials and
Hearings Taxi and Limousine Tribunal Appeals Unit
("Appeals Unit") overturned the penalty, ruling
that the administrative law judge's decision was
"not supported by substantial evidence." J.A. 187.
The TLC then re-filed regarding one violation, and the
administrative law judge found El-Nahal not guilty.
Undeterred, the TLC re-filed five other charges against
El-Nahal, and a different administrative law judge once again
found El-Nahal guilty, imposed a fine, and revoked his
license. El-Nahal again appealed, and the Appeals Unit again
overturned the administrative law judge's decision on the
ground that the administrative law judge's findings with
respect to El-Nahal's alleged intent to overcharge were
insufficient. Nonetheless, the TLC re-filed charges against
El-Nahal once more. An administrative law judge yet again
found El-Nahal guilty, based in part on GPS trip records and
Google maps, and the Appeals Unit yet again reversed the
decision on appeal. In reversing, the Appeals Unit dismissed
the charges with prejudice and emphasized that the GPS
evidence used to convict El-Nahal could not, by itself, show
that El-Nahal "intended to overcharge, only that he did
overcharge." J.A. 216.