[68 NJSuper Page 534] This matter is before the court on the return of an order to show cause procured by defendant Ciampi who seeks to restrain the plaintiff from taking any action under a levy and execution upon defendant's taxicab and the municipal license of the City of Newark to operate the taxicab. The defendant also sought to restrain the execution upon certain radio equipment in the taxicab. Both parties, however, have agreed that the radio equipment is the property of the Brown and White Cab Association, thus no further attention need be devoted to that aspect of the case.
The defendant argues that the taxicab license is not property or a right or credit which can be levied upon in an execution.
Plaintiff recovered a judgment in a personal injury negligence action against Ciampi in the sum of $17,000. The factual details are contained in the Appellate Division's opinion, affirming the judgment, reported at 66 N.J. Super. 124. Evidently, the defendant carried only the mandatory $10,000 liability insurance coverage required by statute, N.J.S.A. 48:16-3, and the Newark municipal ordinance, sec. 31.36.2, thus plaintiff is seeking to recover the balance by execution.
The statutes governing execution permit a levy to be made upon property of every nature and description. Specific mention is made of real property, goods and chattels, N.J.S. 2A:17-1; rights and credits, N.J.S. 2A:17-57; and property, real and personal, N.J.S. 2A:26-2. The courts are enjoined to regard statutes of this type as remedial in nature and to construe them liberally in favor of creditors and claimants. Cowan v. Storms , 121 N.J.L. 336, 342 (Sup. Ct. 1938); N.J.S. 2A:26-1. Concerning statutory remedies in aid of enforcing judgments, it has been said that,
"* * * it is the general policy of the law to lend the creditor all reasonable assistance for the enforcement of his claim, especially against a debtor who, though possessed of the means to pay, seeks to evade his obligation." Passaic National Bank, etc., Co. v. Eelman , 116 N.J.L. 279, 286 (Sup. Ct. 1936).
Bearing the above mentioned approach in mind, the specific inquiry is whether a taxicab license in the City of Newark is property or a right or credit within the meaning of the statutes governing executions.
In order to assist the court in its determination, testimony was taken relative to the practices of the municipal licensing agency. Mr. Nathaniel Ross, Chief Clerk of the License Division, testified that he had been employed in the License
Division for 31 years; that the ordinance limits the number of licenses to 600; and that, at least since 1946, the number of licenses has always been maintained at 600. Mr. Ross said that there never had been any actual revocations although the ordinance provides for revocations; that he recalled one occasion on which a licensee, who had been convicted of a crime, was permitted to sell and transfer his license to another individual in lieu of revocation. He further testified that during his tenure transfers amounted to 50 to 75 a year. On cross-examination, Mr. Ross said that each transferee is investigated by the Police Department before the transfer is approved. If the transferee does not qualify, the transfer is refused and made to another designated by the transferor who does qualify. He further said that a person intending to go into the taxicab business in Newark would have to seek out someone already licensed, make a bargain for transfer of the license, and then have the transfer approved by the License Division.
The ordinance of the City of Newark, adopted pursuant to R.S. 48:16-2, et seq. , was introduced in evidence. Its pertinent parts provide that an applicant for a taxicab license must disclose his name and address, the year, passenger capacity, type and model of vehicle for which the license is desired, and such further information as the supervisor of the City of Newark may require. Sec. 31.36.4. If the supervisor finds the applicant is fit, willing and able to perform such public transportation, considering the applicant's character, experience and responsibility, he shall issue the license. Sec. 31.36.5. Suspension and revocation are provided for violations of Newark city ordinances or state or federal laws which reflect unfavorably upon the fitness of the holder to offer public transportation. Sec. 31.36.7.
The section on Transfer , 31.36.6, is quoted in full as follows:
"No taxicab license may be sold, assigned or otherwise transferred without the consent of the supervisor. Any license may be transferred to another, to be used in ...