may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Richard D. Heil,
City of Minneapolis,
Filed September 2, 1997
Hennepin County District Court
File No. AP 97-341
Richard Heil, P. O. Box 581981, Minneapolis, MN 55458-1981 (pro se relator)
Jay M. Heffern, City Attorney, Dana Banwer, Asst. City Attorney, 300 Metropolitan Centre, 333 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, MN 55402-2453 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Amundson, Judge.
Relator, a taxi driver, challenged the district court's refusal to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining respondent city's Department of Regulatory Services from denying him a permanent taxi driver's license.
When respondent City of Minneapolis, Department of Regulatory Services, Division of Licenses and Consumer Services, learned that relator had been driving without a license, it imposed the standard $200 fine as a penalty for driving a taxi without a license; $100 was stayed pending a year without additional infractions. Relator refused to pay the fine or to produce his "trip sheets" (mandatory accounts of each day's taxi driving) for most of the days he had been driving without a valid license.
Respondent scheduled a technical advisory committee (TAC) hearing to resolve relator's license difficulties, but relator walked out of the hearing. Respondent then cancelled relator's provisional license and refused to issue him a permanent license. Relator sought a TRO compelling respondent to issue him a permanent license. After a hearing in the district court, respondent agreed to provide another TAC hearing for relator. At this second hearing, relator requested a continuance so he could perform discovery and asked that respondent's personnel be removed from the hearing. Relator left this hearing before any matters were resolved.
Respondent then told relator it would not issue a permanent license, and the district court denied relator's motion for a TRO. Relator appeals.
Carl Bolander & Sons v. City of Minneapolis, 502 N.W.2d 203, 209 (Minn. 1993).
There are five criteria relevant to a motion for a TRO:
(1) The nature and background of the relationship between the parties preexisting the dispute giving rise to the request for relief.
(2) The harm to be suffered by plaintiff if the temporary restraint is denied as compared to that inflicted on defendant if the injunction issues pending trial.
(3) The likelihood that one party or the other will prevail on the merits when the fact situation is viewed in light of established precedents fixing the limits of equitable relief.
(4) The aspects of the fact situation, if any, which permit or require consideration of public policy expressed in the statutes, State and Federal.
(5) The administrative burdens involved in judicial supervision and enforcement of the temporary decree.
Dahlberg Bros., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 272 Minn. 264, 274-75, 137 N.W.2d 314, 321-22 (1965).
1. The relationship between respondent and relator is that of a regulatory organization and an individual who chose to be subject to its authority. Respondent has the authority to regulate relator's driving of his taxi and to enforce its regulations. There is nothing in the preexisting relationship between relator and respondent to support relator's request for a TRO to enjoin respondent from exercising its authority.
2. If the injunction were issued, respondent would be compelled to contravene its own policy of penalizing those who drive a taxi without a license. Harm would therefore accrue to respondent, in that respondent's authority to license and regulate taxi drivers would be denigrated. That harm would be unavoidable and irreparable. Harm would also accrue to relator if the injunction were not issued, but his harm could have been avoided and is not irreparable. Relator will not be allowed to drive a taxi without a license, but by paying the penalty and agreeing to comply with respondent's regulations, relator could have avoided and can repair the harm.
3. Relator has little likelihood of success on the merits. To succeed, he would need to demonstrate either that respondent lacks the authority to regulate taxi drivers generally or that respondent lacked authority or violated a constitutional right in its treatment of relator. The evidence does not support either position. Respondent has the authority to regulate taxi drivers. Relator has admitted that he drove without a license, that he failed to produce trip sheets, and that the $200 penalty is standard for these infractions.
Relator argues that he was denied due process. This argument fails initially because it is based on the premise that a provisional taxicab license is a constitutionally protected interest. However, even if relator were constitutionally entitled to a license, he was not deprived of it without due process: respondent provided him with two hearings, but he walked out of both of them.
Relator claims his license could be revoked only by the city council. This is true only of permanent licenses. Relator had a provisional license; it could be cancelled
upon a finding that the driver no longer meets the minimum prerequisites for a taxicab driver's license, or has committed a violation of the provisions of this chapter, or for other good cause.
Minneapolis, Minn., Code of Ordinances § 341.385 (1996). Relator violated the provisions of the chapter by driving without a valid license and failing to provide trip sheets. His refusal to pay the fine for these offenses meant he did not qualify for a permanent license. He was informed by letter that his provisional license was cancelled and why it was cancelled. There was no violation of due process.
4. Public policy supports enforcing license requirements for taxi drivers. If drivers breach regulations with impunity, respondent's authority to regulate the taxi business will be eroded, as will public confidence in that business.
5. No administrative burden would result from issuing or denying the injunction.
A consideration of the district court's denial of the TRO in light of the Dahlberg factors leads us to the conclusion that the denial was not an abuse of discretion.