The Court of Appeals determined the lawsuit against the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and New York City by taxi services which purchased yellow cab medallions at an auction in 2013 failed to state a claim. The plaintiffs argued defendants breached an implied covenant of good faith by failing to regulate competing services like Uber and Lyft and engaged in deceptive business practices under General Business Law 349:
… [T]he covenant cannot be used to “imply obligations inconsistent with other terms of the contractual relationship,” and encompasses only those “promises which a reasonable person in the position of the promisee would be justified in understanding were included” … . * * *
… [P]laintiffs acknowledged in the bid forms that defendants made no representations or warranties “as to the present or future value of a taxicab medallion.” As plaintiffs concede on this appeal, that language is flatly inconsistent with any suggestion that defendants guaranteed the value of their medallions. …
… [P]laintiffs acknowledged in the bid forms that defendants made no representations or warranties “as to the present or future application or provisions of the rules of the [TLC] or applicable law.” The plain language of that disclaimer put plaintiffs on notice that they—not defendants—bore the risk that either TLC’s rules or its “application” thereof might change after the sale of the medallions. * * *
Section 349 prohibits “[d]eceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in this state” (General Business Law § 349 [a] …). …. [T]he government’s issuance of a taxicab license is not a consumer-oriented transaction protected by section 349 … . Singh v City of New York, 2023 NY Slip Op 02141, CtApp 4-25-23
Practice Point: Yellow cab medallion holders, when the purchased the medallions at auction, agreed the bid included disclaimers stating the future value of the medallions was not guaranteed. Therefore the breach-of-a-covenant-of-good-faith cause of action failed. In addition, the deceptive business practices (General Business Law 349) cause of action the purchase of yellow cab medallions is not a consumer-oriented transaction subject to the statute.