January 3, 2024

The firm achieved a complete victory in the Second Circuit for our client the New York Black Car Operators’ Injury Compensation Fund, Inc. (the “Fund”), resulting in dismissal of a class action lawsuit against the Fund.  The Court adopted the firm’s arguments in ruling on a novel and significant question of first impression as to the proper interpretation of the Fund’s governing statute.  The Fund is a non-profit organization created by the New York legislature to provide workers compensation benefits, and other health and safety programs, to black car drivers. Partners Richard H. Dolan and Seth D. Allen litigated the case.

Plaintiff, on behalf of the class, alleged that the Fund had for years improperly assessed a statutory surcharge on the non-cash tips that black car and app-based riders provide to drivers.  The firm argued that the Fund was statutorily permitted to assess the surcharge on such non-cash tips, based on the plain language of the Fund’s enabling statute.  The District Court had disagreed with the Fund’s interpretation and awarded summary judgment on liability to the plaintiff.  In the wake of that order, the parties stipulated that the amount of damages, in the event liability were to be affirmed on appeal, exceeded $8 million. 

The Second Circuit agreed with the Fund’s straightforward interpretation of the statute, holding that because non-cash tips appear on the “invoice, billings or credit payments,” for the “covered services” provided by drivers, the Fund was statutorily permitted to assess the surcharge on those tips.  The Second Circuit accordingly reversed the District Court’s summary judgment order and remanded with instructions to dismiss the plaintiff’s sole cause of action against the Fund in its entirety.

Read the full decision here.

Law360 wrote up the firm’s unanimous victory. See link here.