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In order to justify a preliminary injunction, a movant must demonstrate: (1) irreparable harm absent injunctive relief; (2) either a likelihood of success on the merits, or a serious question going to the merits to make them a fair ground for trial, with a balance of hardships tipping decidedly in the plaintiff's favor; and (3) that the public's interest weighs in favor of granting an injunction.
The Taxicab & Limousine Commission of New York City ("TLC") and several New York City officials (collectively, "the City") appealed the grant of a preliminary injunction by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, that enjoined the enforcement of the City's revisions to the maximum lease rates for taxicabs that effectively shifted fuel costs from drivers of fleet taxis to fleet owners to incentivize the use of hybrid-engine and fuel-efficient vehicles. The district court held that the new rules likely related to fuel economy standards and new vehicle emissions and were thus preempted under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act ("EPCA"), 49 U.S.C. § 32919(a), and the Clean Air Act ("CAA"), 42 U.S.C. § 7543(a). In this case, the City's sole challenge to the preliminary injunction is that the plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their preemption claims.
Was the grant of preliminary injunction proper?
The court found that New York City, N.Y., R. tit. 35, § 1-78, contained a reference to fuel economy standards and made fuel economy standards essential to the operation of the rules. Therefore, it was preempted by the EPCA. Because preemption under the EPCA was sufficient to affirm the preliminary injunction, there was no need to reach the question of whether the preemption provision of the Clean Air Act would invalidate the new rules.