Judge won’t toss taxi firms’ Uber suit vs. Palm Beach County

Rosenberg (Post/Lannis Waters)
Rosenberg (Post/Lannis Waters)

The class-action lawsuit by taxi and limousine drivers against Palm 020115-UBER-3Beach County still has some life.

The outfits had sued in federal court in May 2015, arguing the county gave special treatment to the app-based ride service Uber.

Fort Pierce-based U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg had thrown out the suit in February, but had permitted the firms to file an amended complaint.

In late May, she tossed the third of three counts, and part of the second count, but said the firms may continue to pursue damages for the year and a half that the county had a temporary operating agreement with San Francisco-based Uber parent Rasier LLC.

On Monday, Rosenberg refused to dismiss the rest of the case, County Attorney Denise Nieman told commissioners and staff in an email.

“Moving forward, our efforts will be focused on completing discovery and filing a motion (for) a summary judgment,” Nieman said.

In partially dismissing the case in May, Rosenberg had agreed with the county’s argument that the suit was been made moot when county commissioners, on April 19, set rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations that those firms have said guarantee they will operate safely.

Read The Post’s complete Uber coverage

Federal judge tosses most of taxi firms’ suit against Palm Beach County over Uber rules

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Rosenberg (Post/Lannis Waters)
Rosenberg (Post/Lannis Waters)

Taxi and limousine drivers who’ve already lost once in their class-action suit against Palm Beach County have been dealt another, nearly fatal blow.

The outfits had sued in federal court in May 2015, arguing the county gave special treatment to the app-based ride service Uber.

Fort Pierce-based U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg had thrown out the suit in February, but had permitted the firms to file an amended complaint.

This week, she tossed the third of three counts, and part of the second count, agreeing with the county’s argument that the suit was been made moot when county commissioners, on April 19, set rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations that those firms have said guarantee they will operate safely.

Taxi and limo firms have said the rules give the app-based ride services an unfair advantage and don’t go far enough to protect the public.

Rosenberg wrote Wednesday that the firms may continue to pursue damages for the year and a half that the county had a temporary operating agreement with San Francisco-based Uber parent Rasier LLC. The judge also suggested to county lawyers that they convert their motion to dismiss the remaining claims, instead filing a motion for summary judgment.

Read The Post’s complete Uber coverage

 

Palm Beach County gives a “go” to rules for Uber-style firms

Uber01Palm Beach County Commissioners Tuesday finally set rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations.

The ride companies have said the rules are enough to guarantee they will operate safely. But taxi firms say rules don’t go far enough to protect the public and give the ride services an unfair advantage.

Palm Beach County set a temporary operating agreement for app-based ride services in September 2014. A year later, the county opted not to set its own permanent rules and continued its temporary agreement, hoping that the Florida Legislature would enact uniform regulations for the entire state. In mid-March, the state body adjourned without a law in place. With the county’s temporary agreement set to expire April 30, the issue came back to commissioners.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Commission set to OK Uber today

020115-UBER-3UPDATE: Clerk Bock has postponed her report.

Palm Beach County is set today to, finally, approve rules for Uber and Lyft and similar app-based ride operations. After spending more than two and a half hours on April 5, the commission approved the package of rules 7-0, on the first of two votes. The companies say the rules are enough to guarantee they will operate safely. But taxi firms say they don’t go far enough to protect the public and give the ride services an unfair advantage.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

Bock: The commission will hear Clerk of Courts Sharon Bock’s annual financial report. Last year, Bock reported that county assets dropped $99.1 million, mostly because the county sold the Mecca Farms property at a $33 million loss and locked into $50 million in new debt over the Max Planck Institute and the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Trespass: A second and final vote on new rules that allow for banning people from county parks and recreational areas for a year or more for various violations.

Housing: Approved its required Local Housing Assistance Plan for the next three years, as required by the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP). The plan’s goals are to preserve and increase the stock of affordable housing.

Bus vs. House: Is set to approve a $51,593 settlement for a West Palm Beach man whose home was damaged in March 2013 when it was struck by a Palm Tran bus.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

 

 

 

Update: Palm Beach County OKs Uber rules on 1st reading; 2nd vote April 19

Uber1Palm Beach County Commissioners, after spending 2-1/2 hours Tuesday yet again debating rules for Uber-style firms, voted them up 7-0 on  the first of two votes; the second would be April 19.

Major points: both Uber-style outfits and taxis would be responsible to either conduct their own background checks or hire the county to do the more comprehensive and costly fingerprint-based “Level II” checks for them.

That, and what insurance would be required of drivers in both endeavors, have been sticking points in the debate for going on two years.

Uber and Lyft say the proposed rules would guarantee they operate safely; taxi firms say aren’t sufficient and give the app-based rides an unfair advantage.

“If we were having a real safety issue we would be hearing it. We would be seeing it,” said Tomas Bolton, head of the local “Citizens for Improved Transit.”

But limo service owner Sheryl Berkowitz said, “I cannot believe what’s going on, being a woman, mother, and a property owner. Why don’t you just let everyone drive?”

She added, “ the only thing you’re protecting is uber’s wishes; its transportation model.”

Lee Barron, who operates a Fort Pierce-based transportation service to airports and ports, told the commission, “You should just deregulate the whole mess, get out of it  You probably wish you never heard the words “vehicle for hire.”

Palm Beach County had set a temporary operating agreement in September 2014. A year later, it opted not to set new rules, instead calling on the Florida legislature to enact uniform regulations for the entire state. On March 1, commissioners extended the agreement to April 30, to see what Tallahassee did. In mid-March the state body adjourned without a law in place.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Palm Beach County Commissioners tackle Uber today — again

palm-beach-county-logo020115-UBER-3Grab your app. Uber’s back.

The Palm Beach County Commission once again will tackle the issue of how the app-based ride service and similar ones are regulated, and whether they are getting an unfair advantage over traditional taxis and limos.

 

The biggest aspect of the Uber package commissioners will consider: both Uber-style outfits and taxis would be responsible to either conduct their own background checks or hire the county to do the more comprehensive and costly fingerprint-based “Level II” checks for them. That, and what insurance would be required of drivers in both endeavors, have been sticking points in the debate for going on two years.

The commission might also talk some more about last week’s charge by the county’s inspector general that officials of the Palm Tran Connection cooked their books to improve the on-time record for the bus service for the disabled, elderly and ill.

Other items on the agenda:

Trespass: Would approve new rules that allow for banning people from county parks and recreational areas for a year or more for various violations.Diamond

Donations: Would give Animal Care and Control autonomy to make donation deals with businesses for items in “goodie bags” given to pet adopters.

Sportsman’s Park: Would let Lantana build just two docks instead of three at its waterfront Sportsman’s Park and spend the extra money on seawall and parking lot improvements.

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting:

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

 

Legislature balks on Uber rules; issue goes back to Palm Beach County Commission

020115-UBER-3

Rosayn
Rosayn

The contentious issue of how to regulate Uber and other app-based ride programs, and what it means for the traditional taxi and limo industry, could be back before the Palm Beach County Commission as early at next month.

 

The issue could come back to the commission’s April 5 meeting, Brock Rosayn, president of Metro Taxi of Palm Beach County and a member of the county’s Vehicle for Hire Advisory Committee, said Sunday.

In September, Palm Beach County opted not to set new rules, instead calling on the Florida legislature to enact uniform regulations for the entire state. On March 1, county commissioners extended their September 2014 temporary operating agreement

Abrams
Abrams

to the end of next month, to see what Tallahassee did.

On Friday, the state body adjourned without a law in place.

“I guess it puts it back into square one as far as the Uber debate,” Commissioner Steven Abrams said Sunday.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

County establishes fines for new home caregivers ordinance

Home caregivers who fail to undergo a fingerprint-based background check every five years could be fined $500, according to a resolution passed by the Palm Beach County Commission establishing a fine and fee schedule.

Caregivers would face a $500 fine for successive violations of the new licensing law, which commissioners approved in October.

The fingerprint-based checks are the same ones that have hung up negotiations between Uber and the county. Uber has objected to the county’s plan to require that its drivers undergo the checks, arguing that would reduce the number of people willing to serve as drivers.

Cab drivers have been required to undergo the fingerprint-based checks and complain that Uber is getting special treatment.

Uber is doing business in the county on a temporary operating agreement that was extended on Tuesday, not long after commissioners voted to established the system of fines for home caregivers.

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Palm Beach County: give Uber two more months

020115-UBER-3UPDATE: March 1, 9:40am: At the start of today’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting, County Administrator Verdenia Baker said the proposal has been changed to end the temporary operating agreement not at the end of September but to instead extend it just another two months to the end of April.

Palm Beach County Commissioners are set at their next meeting, March 1, to extend for another six months the operating agreement with Uber app-based ride program and similar outfits that already is approaching a year and a half.

Palm Beach and other South Florida counties, and the entire state, have been wrestling with rules for Uber and other operations. Taxi and limo firms have said a person’s in just as much danger getting into a stranger’s private car as a taxi and that the app-based firms’ drivers should have the same background check and insurance rules. Uber argues it’s a different animal.

Uber wasn’t helped by this week’s shooting binge by a Michigan Uber driver that left at least six dead. Uber has said the driver had no criminal past and had passed background checks.

The county commission set the 1-year temporary deal in September 2014. In September 2015, it voted to extend it to March 31 or until the Legislature passed uniform statewide rules for such providers. But the Legislature still is wrestling with proposals; thus the commission’s proposed stopgap.

Taxi, limo firms refile tossed Uber lawsuit

020115-UBER-3As Palm Beach County lawyers had expected, a group of taxi and limousine drivers have resubmitted their Uber-related lawsuit, which a federal judge had thrown out on Feb. 4.

County Attorney Denise Marie Nieman told county commissioners and staff Thursday in an email that she’d received the new, amended complaint in the class-action suit, which claimed Palm Beach County gives special treatment to the Uber app-based ride program.

“I will keep you posted as this matter progresses,” Nieman wrote.

In their lawsuit, originally filed in May 2015, the plaintiffs — Boyce Transportation, which operates A1A Airport and Limousine Service; Prestige Limousine; North County Transportation; Apollo Transportation Services; and Metro Premier Car Service — demanded monetary damages, a declaration that Uber is a vehicle-for-hire firm, and an order barring the county from “selectively enforcing the laws of the state and county applicable to plaintiffs’ business for the benefit of any (vehicle for hire) company willing to pay PBC to do so.”

But U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg wrote in a ruling from Fort Pierce that the firms’ “broad allegation” that they were the same animal as Uber and similar firms “is not supported by sufficient factual allegations.”

A plan to create statewide rules for app-based ride programs is working its way through the Legislature.