United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
P. GAYLES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE came before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss Amended
Class Action Complaint (“Motion”) [ECF No. 12],
filed by Defendant Miami-Dade County (the
“County”) on June 29, 2016. Plaintiffs Miadeco
Corp., B&S Taxi Corp., and Checker Cab Operators, Inc.
(“Plaintiffs”), filed their Response in
Opposition . . . (“Response”) [ECF No. 30] on
September 15, 2016. The County filed its Reply in Support . .
. (“Reply”) [ECF No. 41] on November 16, 2016.
The Court has carefully considered the parties'
submissions, the record, and applicable law. For the reasons
that follow, the Motion is granted.
initially filed their Class Action Complaint in the Circuit
Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade
County, Florida, on February 22, 2016. [ECF No. 1-2 at 5-30].
They then filed their Amended Class Action Complaint and
Demand for Jury Trial (“Amended Complaint”) [ECF
No. 1-2 at 41-68] on May 4, 2016. The County timely removed
the action to this Court on June 1, 2016, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and (b) and 1446. [ECF No. 1].
The Amended Complaint advances claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for alleged violations of equal protection (Count
I) under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and Article I, Section 2, of the Florida
Constitution; alleged violations of the Fifth Amendment to
the United States Constitution and Article X, Section 6(a),
of the Florida Constitution for inverse condemnation (Count
IV); and alleged violations of the commerce clause (Count V)
under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, of the United States
Constitution. In addition to damages and attorney's fees,
the Amended Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment (Count II)
and injunctive relief (Count III). This Court has original
jurisdiction over the federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 and supplemental jurisdiction over the state
claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
are for-hire taxicab license holders in Miami-Dade County
that are governed by the Miami-Dade County Code of Ordinances
(“Code”). Section 1.01(A)(3) of the Miami-Dade
County Home Rule Charter expressly grants the Board of County
Commissioners the power to “[l]icense and regulate
taxis, jitneys, limousines for hire, rental cars, and other
passenger vehicles for hire operating in the county.”
Pursuant to this power, the County adopted Chapter 31 of the
Code. The County's regulations of for-hire taxicabs are
contained in Article II of Chapter 31. Particularly,
“[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to use, drive or
operate . . . any for-hire motor vehicle upon the streets of
Miami-Dade County without first obtaining a Miami-Dade County
for-hire license and maintaining it current and valid
pursuant to the provisions of this article.” Code
§ 31-82(a). The license, or “medallion, ” is
intangible property. See Code §§ 31-81(z),
(aa). The County limits the total quantity of medallions but
also occasionally auctions off new medallions. See
Code § 31-82(o). The medallions are eligible to be
resold, see Code § 31-82(r), with a secondary
fair market value in January 2014 of approximately $340,
000.00. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 41).
3, 2016, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners
passed an Ordinance regulating the operation of new
transportation network entities (“TNEs”) such as
Uber and Lyft. The County's regulations of TNEs are
contained in Article VII of Chapter 31. The County's
provision regarding operations is as follows:
It shall be unlawful for any transportation network entity to
begin operations, or allow transportation network entity
drivers to provide transportation network entity services . .
. upon the streets of Miami-Dade County, Florida, without
first obtaining a preliminary transportation network entity
license or a transportation network entity for-hire license
and maintaining its current and valid pursuant to the
provisions of this article. There shall be no limitation on
the number of preliminary licenses or transportation network
entity licenses that may be issued.
Code § 31-702(a). Accordingly, the Code does not require
TNE drivers to obtain medallions under § 31-82(a) to
operate within the County. Instead, TNEs have a completely
separate and distinct regulatory system, with varying
requirements to operate within the County from those imposed
on taxicabs. As a result of the new Ordinance, over 10,
000 TNE drivers now operate in the County. (See Am.
Compl. ¶ 55). Plaintiffs allege that this increase in
non-medallion holders has diluted the for-hire transportation
market, impairing the value of Plaintiffs' intangible
property. (See id.).
in Counts I, II, and III of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs
allege that their equal protection rights have been violated
by the County's arbitrary differentiation between the
ordinance for taxicabs, which requires medallions and one set
of regulations, and the ordinance for TNEs, which does not
require medallions and has a completely different set of
regulations. Plaintiffs allege that the TNE “Ordinance
is unconstitutional because it arbitrarily treats Plaintiffs
on less than equal terms than it treats the TN[E]s.”
(See Id. ¶ 74). Even though the taxicab
Plaintiffs and the TNEs are similarly situated, Plaintiffs
contend that “the County has intentionally chosen to
arbitrarily carve out an exception to laws that would
otherwise apply to the TN[E]s in favor of creating new,
special and less onerous laws, the effect of which is to
discriminate against Plaintiffs in favor of the TN[E]s,
” a decision “not rationally related to
legitimate governmental interest” but rather
“irrational and wholly arbitrary.” (See
Id. ¶¶ 77-78).
Count IV of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege an
unlawful taking of their property without just compensation
in violation of the 5th Amendment of the United States
Constitution and Article X, Section 6(a), of the Florida
Constitution. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that
“[t]hrough the Ordinance, the County has substantially
interfered with the private property held by the Plaintiffs
in that their for-hire licenses will be, and are,
significantly devalued as a result of the legalization and/or
regulation of the [TNEs]” and that “[t]he
County's actions do not substantially advance a
legitimate state interest.” (See Id.
¶¶ 92-93). Because the County has never offered to
purchase Plaintiffs' medallions, nor paid for damages for
their devaluation, Plaintiffs contend that the County is in
violation of the state and federal constitutions.
Count V of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege a
violation of the commerce clause because “[a]s a result
of the Ordinance, TN[E]s are not subject to onerous
regulatory requirements that are imposed upon the Plaintiffs
and the putative class, ” and because “[t]here is
no rational basis to treat TN[E]s differently from the
Plaintiffs and the putative class.” (See Id.
¶¶ 97-98). Plaintiffs argue that through the
Ordinance, the County “has chosen favored businesses to
provide such services in an anticompetitive manner, and
unconstitutionally deprived Plaintiffs and the putative class
the opportunity fairly to compete with the TN[E]s, ”
something Plaintiffs describe as a “hornbook
monopolization strategy.” (See Id.
¶¶ 99-100). Plaintiffs allege that the
“economic effects” of the County's Ordinance
“are interstate in reach” because the
“majority” of those who use for-hire
transportation services in the County are “tourists who
have travelled to Miami-Dade County from out-of-state.”
(See Id. ¶ 101). And Plaintiffs contend that
the County's requirement that Plaintiffs “charge
mandated rates and pay mandated fees . . . impermissibly
burden[s] and restrict[s] the free flow of interstate
commerce.” (See Id. ¶ 102).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Although this pleading standard “does not
require ‘detailed factual allegations, ' . . . it
demands more than an unadorned, the
Id. (alteration added) (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). Pleadings must contain “more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). Indeed,
“only a complaint that states a plausible claim for
relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
To meet this “plausibility standard, ” a
plaintiff must “plead[ ] factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at
678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
reviewing a motion to dismiss, a court must construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and
take the factual allegations therein as true. See Brooks
v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d
1364, 1369 (11th Cir. 1997). However, pleadings that
“are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the
assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide ...