A Jefferson Parish judge has dismissed a lawsuit accusing drivers for the ride-hailing service UberX of using unfair trade practices to compete against the parish’s taxi drivers.
Judge Ellen Kovach, of 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, ruled Tuesday that the 20 plaintiffs in the case had no cause of action when they sued several UberX drivers in February, alleging that the defendants were picking up fares without obtaining the costly “certificates of public necessity and convenience” that the parish requires for anyone operating a for-hire vehicle.
The defendants, who were represented by attorney Matt Coman, argued that requirement does not apply to cars affiliated with services like UberX following the passage of a state law addressing such issues last year.
The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Yvette D’Aunoy, said her clients are weighing their options, which include modifying the basis of their lawsuit, filing a new one in the same court or appealing Kovach’s ruling to a higher court.
Uber issued a statement calling Kovach’s ruling a victory for those who rely on it “for access to safe, reliable transportation options and flexible work opportunities.”
Uber added that the company looks forward to continuing discussion with parish officials to develop “sensible, modern” regulations that would apply to it and similar services.
The Parish Council last year considered passing regulations that would have governed Uber and other services, but the measure failed to pass in the face of opposition from Jefferson’s taxicab industry.
Initially, D’Aunoy’s clients sought damages from Uber as well as an injunction prohibiting the service’s drivers from picking up fares in the parish. But earlier this month, they dropped their request for an injunction, so all that was at stake Tuesday was the request for damages.
The injunction request was dropped after the plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit filed by cabbies in New Orleans — also represented by D’Aunoy — did the same thing.
The plaintiffs in the New Orleans case, which remains pending, said they dropped their injunction request as part of a deal that would allow Uber drivers to continue picking up fares in the city while the court moved more swiftly to decide the basic issue of whether the ride-hailing service is unfairly competing against the taxicab industry.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, officials cleared the way for UberX passengers to be taken into New Orleans from Louis Armstrong International Airport, which is owned by the city but sits in Kenner, a Jefferson Parish municipality.