State Attorney General Tish James is getting headlines for what seems like a solid new lawsuit against Amazon for allegedly failing to protect warehouse employees from COVID. She should get just as much ink for a lawsuit that never was: an attempt to take the City of New York to court for $810 million for supposedly inflating the price of thousands of taxi medallions over a 14-year period.
Last Feb. 20, James announced her plans to sue, claiming that the city under Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio and its Taxi and Limousine Commission “that defrauded hundreds of medallion owners,” and demanding nearly a billion in damages from city taxpayers.
Then the city lawyers waited, and waited, like for a cab that never comes. Turned out, James didn’t have the goods. Her officials claim she gave up the ghost because the COVID pandemic hit, and suffering medallion owners and drivers wanted more immediate relief via debt relief, not a dragged-out lawsuit that could be subject to appeal. But that relief still hasn’t come. In any event, either there was a many-year fraud or there wasn’t. Either the case held water or it didn’t.
It didn’t. As we said at the time, “the prime cause” of cratering medallion values “wasn’t poorly regulated speculation but the rise of competition from Uber and Lyft.” Of course: Flooding the streets with upwards of 100,000 new vehicles freshly allowed to grab fares from 13,587 yellow cabs, which were supposed to have a street-hail monopoly, fundamentally slashed taxi driver income.
This is a depressingly predictable pattern for the attorney general. Her case against the city and the NYPD for the way cops policed protests last summer, filed earlier this year, rests on shaky ground. After she took the Trump administration to court for capping the state and local tax deduction, the weak case challenging a bad but wholly legal federal policy choice got dismissed. As city public advocate, she was repeatedly removed from lawsuits for lacking legal standing.
Can the people of New York file suit against their AG for frivolity?
— New York Daily News/TNS