Union Taxi, LLC v. City Council of Lynn

Full title: UNION TAXI, LLC v. CITY COUNCIL OF LYNN & others.

Court: Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

Date published: Feb 6, 2013


Following the denial of its application for the issuance of ten taxicab medallions in Lynn, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant City Council of Lynn (Council) in the Superior Court, seeking an injunction compelling the Council “to issue to the Plaintiff ten (10) taxicab medallion licenses.”

 Because the four parties identified as interveners in note 1, supra, had an interest in the outcome, they all intervened. Based on thirteen stipulations of fact submitted by the plaintiff, the Council, and interveners DCBA Transportation, Inc. (DCBA), and T.G. Taxi, Inc. (T .G.), in their joint pretrial memorandum, supplemented by eight exhibits (one of which is a copy of the ordinance regulating taxicabs in Lynn), and following a non-evidentiary hearing, a judge of the Superior Court concluded that the ordinance requires that the owner of any unused taxicab medallion surrender it to the city. DCBA and T.G. appealed from the judgment, which required each of them to surrender five “medallion licenses.” We reverse. The central question of the case is one of the proper interpretation of the ordinance as it relates to the issuance and renewal of licenses for taxicabs and the operation thereof in Lynn. We owe no deference to the Superior Court judge’s decision because it is a ruling of law and, since the case was presented on a stipulated record, it involves no credibility or evidentiary determinations. See Doe v. Superintendent of Schs. of Stoughton, 437 Mass. 1, 5 n. 6 (2002).



A plain reading of the ordinance reveals that “medallion” and “license” are distinct terms; in particular, subsection G refers separately to both medallions and licenses, while subsection I refers only to licenses.

 The plaintiff’s proffered construction erroneously treats the two terms as interchangeable. We also note that, while subsection B requires that every licensed taxicab must have a medallion affixed to it, it does not (nor does any other provision of the ordinance) require that every medallion be affixed to an operating taxicab.

 Whether it is a wise policy for the Council to allow medallion holders to “pocket” one or more medallions for some time, by not operating an associated taxicab, is not for us to evaluate; instead, we defer to the construction the Council gives to the ordinance it enacted and administers, supported by a plain reading of the words of the ordinance, reading its various provisions in context and as a whole, and treating no word as superfluous.

The judgment is reversed. A new judgment shall enter dismissing the complaint.

So ordered.

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