Under an aggressive policy meant to combat unlicensed vehicles for-hire, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) has seized over 21,000 cars since 2012. After a seizure, commission inspectors pressure owners to plead guilty and pay hundreds of dollars in fines to recover their property. The Commission’s citywide dragnet not only cracked down those who compete with established transportation companies, but also ensnared regular New Yorkers, who were simply driving their friends, family, neighbors—and even nuns—around the city.
After the TLC seized their cars without warrants, five owners sued in federal court last year. As they asserted in their complaint, the government cannot “seize property without judicial process and hold the property hostage.”