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Monday, March 24, 2014

Local Taxi Association Sues Uber in King County Court

Posted by on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Well this is some interesting news in the ongoing war-on-taxis/war-on-rideshares: GeekWire reports this afternoon that the Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association is suing Uber Technologies. From GeekWire:

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, claims that Uber’s service has violated city, county and state laws, and “engages in an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”

The Seattle City Council voted earlier this month to regulate companies like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX, which is Uber’s low-cost offering that allows everyday drivers to shuttle people around town. However, this lawsuit appears directed at Uber’s luxury service, which uses professional drivers that partner with Uber.

The complaint notes that the Operators Association’s members, which are made up of taxi drivers from the Seattle region, are forced to follow requirements enacted by the City of Seattle and King County while Uber’s drivers do not abide by the same laws.

Read the rest here. KOMO tweeted out a PDF of the lawsuit right here, if you'd like to read the whole thing. Uber Seattle's general manager Brooke Steger hasn't yet returned a call for comment, nor has the taxi association's spokeswoman Dawn Gearheart.

A similar case was filed in Chicago last month.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: Brooke Steger offers this comment on the lawsuit: "Uber remains focused on connecting people with the safest and most reliable transportation options in Seattle and protecting the thousands of small business jobs created by our technology platform. It is unfortunate that the taxi industry is not similarly focused on what really matters: safety of riders and opportunity for drivers."


Comments (19) RSS

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A pathetic dying gasp from a long outmoded industry.
Posted by dak7e on March 24, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
I'm not a law person. Can someone explain why, when a city fails to enforce laws, the taxi co sues the alleged scofflaw rather than the city?
Posted by wxPDX on March 24, 2014 at 6:11 PM · Report this
I don't care if she's a crank, I'm signing Elizabeth Campbell's initiative.
Posted by giffy on March 24, 2014 at 7:05 PM · Report this
'Small business jobs'

Gosh, imagine all the small business jobs that could be created by dropping minimum wage requirements, insurance requirements.

Ayn Rand would be soooo proud.
Posted by FubarUber on March 24, 2014 at 7:17 PM · Report this
Makes sense, as Seattle joins West Texas as a leader in the anti-innovation movement. I consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, but if this is what pure liberalism looms like... Count me out. Or, given that West Texas is just corrupt and not liberal, maybe this is what pure corruption looks like? Either way, it's embarrassing to live here.

Yes, anyone can sue anyone for anything. But does anyone think this suit would be filed if the Seattle Coty Council weren't in the pocket of the taxi industry?
Posted by also on March 24, 2014 at 7:24 PM · Report this
Gee too bad the association did not allege injury to IT'S business or propery.
And look forward to taxi assn trying to prove causation. Many things cause taxis to not get business.
Posted by actual legal arguments on March 24, 2014 at 8:10 PM · Report this
They are asking for a ban on uber and compensation equal to all fares and tips, plus damages of 3x all fares and tips. Shoot for the moon taxi association scumbags who mysteriously forget to show up to take me to the airport.
Posted by ChefJoe on March 24, 2014 at 9:44 PM · Report this
I thought Uber abides by the traditional limousine rules? It was only UberX that didn't fit the existing regs .

Either way it would be comical if it wasn't so sad... the taxi cartel's monopoly won't save them from their horrible service so how is suing an even more superior luxury service going to save them? They are getting really bad advice from someone. The last thing you want to do in a private market is highlight how superior your competitor is. Uber should pay the taxi associations legal fees to drag it out as long as possible because Uber is about to get tons of marketing and earned media. Doods... Give it up, seriously. Your industry model is dead. Dead like laserdisc. Dead like Blockbuster. Dead like long distance plans. Someone get on the CB and tells these peeps to accept it and move on. They can demand that the City refund their "medallions" (seriously? that's how old this industry is) and then become Uber drivers (but only if they lose the cabbie attitude, Uber actually has customer service standards)
Posted by Tiredprogressive on March 25, 2014 at 12:32 AM · Report this
chaseacross 9
Are Seattle cab companies on a mission to alienate their last supporters? I'm already disappointed thst the city council caved unanimously to their "get off my buggy-whip strewn lawn," opposition to Uber&Co but now they decide to bayonet the survivors just to let us all know the score.
Posted by chaseacross on March 25, 2014 at 1:02 AM · Report this
Oh, man, Uber is like all civil disobedience, lunch counters and shit, fighting Jim Crow, uplifting the downtrodden! Fuck yeh, man. And shit. Yeah.

All those fools who obeyed the law and took out massive loans or invested their life savings to get regulation cars and medallions and shit? What a bunch of primitive oppressors! They should have come up with a business model where they don't have to invest in tangible assets and shit, yeah. Fucking rip off losers!
Posted by cracked on March 25, 2014 at 1:20 AM · Report this
@10 All those brave freedom fighters who go out there every day and pretend their card machines are broken. What a noble industry.
Posted by ryry on March 25, 2014 at 2:40 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 12
Seattle Taxi's: keeping it classy right to the end.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 25, 2014 at 3:48 AM · Report this
Kinison 13
Funny how the Stranger advocates for more taxi companies in Seattle, because more cabs, more competition and everyone wins (except the cab companies, which don't have wall street money). But at the same time also advocates that Seattle be the only fiber wired ISPs, shutting our other smaller ISPs from leasing the network and creating greater competition.
Posted by Kinison on March 25, 2014 at 5:04 AM · Report this
Where innovation means using my apps instead of talking to a brown/black person & my paycheck is unaffected. Noble!
Posted by UberAlles on March 25, 2014 at 6:02 AM · Report this
I love it when rich, white nerds break existing regulations (like being insured, having distance meters certified by appropriate government agencies, having a clean driving record) it's to be celebrated as "innovation", but when anyone else tries it's not cool anymore.
Posted by Solk512 on March 25, 2014 at 6:52 AM · Report this
Hernandez 16
@5 - I don't think it's liberalism or corruption. I think it's lazy, uncooperative policymaking. The Rideshare companies refused to hand over relevant operator and insurance data to the council, then the council went ahead and passed uninformed regulations, and now the taxi companies are lobbing lawsuits around instead of redoubling their efforts toward improving customer service, because hey, this whole thing's a mess so why not make it messier?

No one looks good here. Not the rideshare companies, not the city council, and definitely not the cab companies.
Posted by Hernandez on March 25, 2014 at 8:38 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 17
@16, perfect.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on March 25, 2014 at 8:49 AM · Report this
Distance meters approved by government agencies? Seriously? It's called GPS and every trip with exact measurements are sent directly to the customer with a map of the route as opposed to whatever cryptic electrobox the cabs are still using. Any route/billing disputes can be resolved in a matter of minutes.

It's the City's fault that they allowed licenses to be bought and sold like cocaine instead of requiring them to be be transferred through the City at face value. Either way the poor long term planning and lack of modernization of an antiquated industry should not be rewarded with the government sanctioned hit on a new, better alternative. YES we should create some basic safety and insurance requirements for ALL drivers (including perhaps even other delivery drivers using their own vehicles). NO, we DO NOT need to keep the medallion system or the taxi monopoly in order to do this.
Posted by Tiredprogressive on March 25, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
@2. generally you can't sue the govt. for being stupid, or not enforcing laws in general, etc. it's called the public duty doctrine, you can google for more info.

the injured taxi company maybe could sue the uber company, but here it's the association and it doesn't even allege in the suit that it itself is injured. it says its members are. fail. you can't sue for someone else's injuries.

also expect major proof problems. how can a taxi driver really prove that but for the existence of uber they would have made more fares? are their fare revenues going down recently? I didn't see them showing that in recent political discussions and obviously with their own caps they can't supply more rides endlessly, anyway; uber is serving a demand that taxis dont' serve, too.

if they're going to try to prove that uber shifts the typical driver to someone slightly poorer who tips less, golly, they just can't prove causation here. it's too subtle and mixed up with other causes and statistical problems andwhatnot. also this: they cry about their tips, when likely they dn't even report their tips or keep paper records fully on past tips so they got no baseline to show damages with. it's all going to be a big guess in short.

okay defendant uber, take this comment to your lawyers and they will tell you the same thing and only charge you $15000 for the initial consult plus saying all this but with case citations in a nice 20 page memo.
Posted by actual law person speaks on March 25, 2014 at 11:13 PM · Report this

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