A Victory for Vugo; The Minnesota Startup Takes on New York City & Upholds
1st Amendment Rights
Last month, Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order that handed a big victory to Vugo and Rubric Legal. In 2015, Vugo filed a First Amendment challenge to New York City regulations that prohibited the display of advertising in ride-share vehicles like Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via, and others, even though it is allowed in taxis and certain other types of vehicles. Vugo and its lawyers sought an order declaring the New York City advertising ban an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. In her February 22 order, Judge Abrams agreed with Vugo, finding that New York City’s regulations were both “under-inclusive in that large swaths of the vehicles regulated…are permitted to display advertisements and unnecessarily restrictive because passengers in non-exempt vehicles could be protected from the dangers identified by the City by means less severe than a complete prohibition on advertising.”
New York City argued that the restrictions it places on advertising in ride-share vehicles were necessary to promote passenger comfort, in large part based on a 2011 survey of taxi passengers in which some – only about a third – of those surveyed indicated that they did not like television in taxis.
Chad Snyder, Vugo’s attorney, successfully argued that the fundamental principle at issue, in this case, was that New York City’s rule was paternalistic in a way the First Amendment outlaws. Snyder applauds Judge Abrams’ holding that the First Amendment prohibits New York City’s regulation of speech in this manner. The court’s holding “reinforces the long-held view that the First Amendment stands for the principle that government doesn’t get to decide what we hear just because some people don’t want to hear it,” said Snyder. “Any time a government limits speech because of what its message contains, citizens of a democracy should be worried, and courts should step in to uphold the free speech rights that are fundamental to our democracy.”
Vugo is the world’s first passenger-focused infotainment company, with headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Vugo also won the nation’s largest statewide startup competition in 2016, The MN Cup. Vugo’s mission is to improve the passenger entertainment experience for people no longer driving with its infotainment platform that shares premium entertainment, games, apps, and more. Vugo helps drivers, rideshare companies, and automakers add incremental income to their bottom line. This both enables drivers to make a better wage (particularly relevant in light of a recent MIT report which found that most drivers net $3.37/hour*) and may help keep ride-sharing costs down for consumers, as Vugo works towards their vision for free transportation, which may only occur when self-driving cars hit the road as reported in Fast Company.
Rubric Legal’s Chad Snyder is a civil litigator with 19+ years of experience representing businesses on a wide range of issues affecting businesses and excels at presenting his client’s story in a compelling way throughout the litigation process.
For more information about Vugo v. City of New York, please reach out to Chad Snyder at 612-465-0074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Vugo unrelated to legal comments on the lawsuit, please contact James Bellefeuille at James@GoVugo.com / +1 310-651-6346
*Updates to the initial report have indicated that pay may be close to $8.55-$10 per hour.