MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Taxi owners in South Florida have filed a lawsuit against Miami-Dade County which will now allow ride-sharing companies to operate legally.READ MORE: Miami GP To Join F1 Calendar From 2022 In 10-Year Deal
The lawsuit, which comes a day after commissioners approved rides-sharing in the county, means companies like Uber and Lyft will be able to operate without being fined.
The lawsuit represents owners of 2,100 county taxi permits, known as medallions. They accuse the county of violating the property rights of the cabbies, who spent thousands of dollars for the medallions, which grant a limited number of people the right to drive a taxi.
“These laws completely devalue and discriminate against taxi medallions which the county has deemed to be intangible property in the past,” said Attorney Ralph Patina who filed the class-action lawsuit.
Yellow Cab Company owner and cab driver Robert Rios owns four medallions, and financed them like a mortgage. He says what was once worth $350,000 each, are now worth just $50,000, thanks to Uber and Lyft being allowed to operate. He says his drivers are struggling as well.
“I’ve got drivers owing me weeks because they can’t pay for it. They don’t make no money and I’m not going to take the car away from them because they have to make a living. It’s really not fair,” said Rios.
They are asking for $1 billion for what they say is the loss of value of the medallions, and loss of business while Uber and Lyft operated illegally for the last two and a half years.Hollywood PD Investigating After Body Found In Burning Car
The taxi cab industry in the county has had a firm grip on the market and they argued on Tuesday to keep it, but that changed after the commissioners voted.
The vote means a few things.
- Uber and Lyft will be legal in 10 days.
- Taxi cabs will now be able to charge less than the rates posted on the door so they can compete.
- Uber and Lyft will have to settle the nearly $4 million in fines for operating illegally.
Vice Chairman Esteban Bovo who pushed his plan that passed argued that cabs are commercial vehicles. Carrying passengers is all they do, while Uber drivers also use their cars to go to the grocery store and take their kids to school. Because of this, Uber and Lyft drivers would not have to purchase the expensive medallions that allow vehicles to operate as a taxi.
Mike Hernandez, the spokesman for Mayor Carlos Gimenez who is out-of-town, says the County is not to blame for the changing times and demand for Uber and Lyft.
“You don’t sue your way into creating a better system for taxi cab operators and medallion holders. You work together. And they had that opportunity,” said Hernandez. “In other parts of the country where taxicabs are actually providing much better, much higher quality service they’re not having the complaints they’re having here in Miami-Dade County.”
According to the attorney, the suit against the county was initially filed in February based on the last two years of damages the taxi drivers believe were created. However, they held off on serving the suit until the commission had its final vote on Tuesday.
The lawsuit also seeks to have the court stop Uber and Lyft from continuing operation in the county though the attorney said that is not their primary goal.
According to online public records, a hearing is set for June 3rd at 9 a.m.MORE NEWS: FEMA-Funded Vaccine Sites To Resume Administering First Doses Of Pfizer Vaccine With J&J Shot Paused
Click here to read the full complaint filed by the taxi owners.