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BOSTON COACH-WASHINGTON CORP. v. DISTRICT OF COLUM

February 1, 1996

BOSTON COACH-WASHINGTON CORP., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TAXICAB COMMISSION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERTSON

 Plaintiffs, two limousine and sedan livery services operating in the Washington metropolitan area, brought this action to enjoin the enforcement of the District of Columbia's limousine licensing regulations. Before the Court are defendant's motion to dismiss and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

 Facts

 The District of Columbia Taxicab Commission, an executive agency of the District of Columbia, was created by the Taxicab Commission Establishment Act of 1985, D.C. Code § 40-1704, to regulate taxicabs and passenger vehicles for hire operating within the District of Columbia. The Act authorizes the Mayor, or his designee, to issue rules and licensing requirements for limousine service operators, vehicles and drivers, provided, however, "that no license requirement for operating authority shall be mandated by the Mayor which is duplicative of the jurisdiction of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Commission." D.C. Code § 40-1713(b).

 In May 1994, acting under this regulatory authority, the Taxicab Commission revised its licensing scheme for limousine operators and vehicles. 31 DCMR § 1200 et seq. The new regulations provide, inter alia, that an operator wishing to provide intra-District limousine service must pay a $ 250 fee and comply with certain reporting requirements. *fn1" Each vehicle and driver providing intra-District service must be licensed pursuant to D.C. Code § 47-2829(h) and § 47-2829(i).

 Limousine operators who wish only to pick-up passengers in the District for transportation out of town may, in the alternative, apply for an inter-jurisdictional limousine permit. 31 DCMR § 1216.1 et seq. Vehicles and drivers providing only inter-jurisdictional service need not be licensed by the District, if they are properly licensed in another jurisdiction.

 The instant action was precipitated by the Taxicab Commission's imposition of civil fines on plaintiffs for operating their limousines in the District without the required licenses.

 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

 Defendant's jurisdictional argument, that this dispute does not lie within the "arising under" jurisdiction established by 28 U.S.C. § 1331, must be rejected. This action seeks injunctive relief on the ground that the licensing requirements are preempted by federal law, namely the Washington Metropolitan Area Regulation Compact. P.L. 101-505, 104 Stat. 1300 (1990). The resolution of conflicts between state and federal law has long been the province of the federal courts. See Shaw v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 463 U.S. 85, 96 n.14, 77 L. Ed. 2d 490, 103 S. Ct. 2890 (1982).

 I decline defendant's invitation that I abstain from exercising jurisdiction based on Younger principles. Neither the Supreme Court nor the D.C. Circuit has decided whether the District of Columbia is a state for Younger abstention purposes. See LaShawn v. Kelly, 301 U.S. App. D.C. 49, 990 F.2d 1319 (D.C. Cir. 1993). Moreover, it is not clear on this record that Boston Coach's pending administrative proceeding is an adequate or appropriate forum for pursuing plaintiffs' federal preemption claim. In any event, even if abstention were appropriate in the case of Boston Coach, it would not resolve the case of International Limousine, with respect to whom no-pending proceedings are underway.

 Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment

 Plaintiff's argument is that defendant's licensing regulations impermissibly intrude upon WMATC's jurisdiction.

 In 1960, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, with Congressional approval, entered into the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact (hereinafter "Compact") to govern the transportation of passengers within the Metropolitan District, an area which includes the District of Columbia and nearby parts of Virginia and Maryland. The Compact was most recently amended by Congress in 1990. P.L. 101-505, 104 Stat. 1300 (1990). WMATC was created by the Compact and is charged with enforcing its provisions. The provisions of the Compact, and of WMATC regulations promulgated pursuant to it, are federal law. See Cuyler v. Adams, 449 U.S. 433, 440, 66 L. Ed. 2d 641, 101 S. Ct. 703 (1981); Morris v. WMATA, 251 U.S. App. D.C. 42, 781 F.2d 218, 220 (D.C. Cir. 1986).

 Under the Compact, WMATC requires carriers to obtain certificates of authority from WMATC, Art. XI, § 6(a), and to file schedules of rates and tariffs for WMATC approval, Art. XI, § 14. Through these mechanisms, WMATC regulates market entry and pricing. WMATC refers to these powers as its "full regulatory jurisdiction under the Compact." See WMATC ...


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