United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
For Delta Cab Association, Inc., Workeshet Cherinet Wmichael, Plaintiffs: Charles Conrow Murphy, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Vaughan & Murphy, Atlanta, GA; Drey A. Cooley, Mark E. Goodman, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Capes, Sokol, Goodman & Sarachan, P.C., Clayton, MO.
For City of Atlanta, Georgia, Defendant: Amber A. Robinson, Kristi M. Carman, Laura Sauriol Burton, City of Atlanta Law Department, Atlanta, GA.
OPINION AND ORDER
THOMAS W. THRASH, JR., United States District Judge.
The Plaintiffs contend that their inability to obtain a permit to operate a taxicab company in Atlanta violates their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Plaintiffs argue that Atlanta's procedures for providing taxicab owners with required permits are discriminatory and arbitrary, and that the City is interfering with their right to run their own taxicab business. However, the City's policies and procedures have a rational basis, and the Defendant's motion for summary judgment should be granted.
The City of Atlanta's taxicab industry is regulated by Chapter 162, Article II of the
City's Code of Ordinances. The Vehicle for Hire Division enforces the taxicab ordinances. The ordinances limit the total number of operating taxicabs in the City and impose requirements on putative owners and operators of taxicabs and taxicab companies.
The Vehicle for Hire Division issues three separate permits that form the basis of the Plaintiffs' contentions. First, all taxicabs in the City must have a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience (" CPNC" ). The ordinances cap the total number of available CPNCs at 1600 for the whole City. These certificates are freely transferable, and private parties own 1,555 of the permits while the City retains the remaining 45. Next, all taxicab drivers must hold a Driver Permit issued by the Vehicle for Hire Division. To obtain a Driver Permit, a taxicab driver must submit a written statement from a CPNC holder and a Company Permit showing the driver's affiliation. Finally, the division issues Company Permits, which are required to operate a taxicab company in Atlanta. To obtain a Company Permit, a company must own or lease 25 taxicabs and maintain at least 25 CPNCs.
The Plaintiffs seek to operate their own taxicab company but they do not have the requisite CPNCs. They claim that the City's failure to transfer to them the 45 CPNCs the City holds violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Plaintiffs' procedural due process rights.
II. Legal Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate only when the pleadings, depositions, and affidavits submitted by the parties show that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court should view the evidence and any inferences that may be drawn in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. The party seeking summary judgment must first identify grounds that show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. The burden then shifts to the nonmovant, who must go beyond the pleadings and present affirmative evidence to show that a genuine issue of material fact does exist. " A mere 'scintilla' of ...