This week, Judge Forrest dismissed an action by New York City pedicab drivers challenging city policies towards pedicabs as unconstitutional. The drivers claimed that NYPD officers were given instructions “from above” to “stop all pedicabs,” which resulted in unwarranted inspections, checkpoints, and fines.
Judge Forrest found that the plaintiffs failed to allege a colorable Fourth Amendment claim:
It is certainly the case that policies and practices such as checkpoints may run afoul of the Fourth Amendment if officers have too much discretion in deciding whom to stop. But a policy that requires officers to “stop all pedicabs” does not leave officers with unchecked discretion—in fact, it does just the opposite. Officers may not have been able physically to inspect every single pedicab that drove by, but that does not indicate that the stops which did occur were unconstitutional. Rather, “stop all pedicabs” is a constitutional policy that simply reached its limits in practice. Nothing in the SAC suggests that officers chose to stop any particular pedicab for reasons other than timing or randomness. (I.e., if an officer was already engaged in inspecting a pedicab, she may have been unable to stop a second pedicab riding by.) And even if this checkpoint-like practice were unconstitutional, plaintiffs do not sufficiently allege facts supporting that the stops which occurred lacked reasonable suspicion. They offer no facts to support this element of a Fourth Amendment claim, other than stating that one of the (presumably many) charges was dismissed by an administrative law judge. This fails the pleading standard set forth in Twombly.
Judge Forrest also rejected Fourteenth Amendment and regulatory challenge claims for similar reasons, noting that the pedicab drivers had not plead specific facts or regulations showing that pedicabs were treated differently from “similarly situated for hire vehicle industries such as livery for hire vehicles and taxicabs.”