D.C. Taxi Drivers Associations File Lawsuit Against District of Columbia and the D.C. Taxicab Commission Over Unfair Treatment

(Washington, D.C.)  Two Washington, D.C. taxicab driver associations filed a lawsuit today in D.C. Superior Court against the District of Columbia and the DC Taxicab Commission.

The suit, filed by pro bono counsel Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, alleges unfair and inconsistent treatment of the city’s cab drivers by the city and the commission since 2008, when the District transitioned to a meter fare structure. The suit seeks a resolution to the unfair and unlawful actions that are threatening the livelihoods and health of many of the city’s taxicab drivers.

“All we are seeking here is lawful, fair and consistent treatment for the city’s cab drivers from the City and the Taxicab Commission,” stated Akin Gump’s Bob Lian, who is pro bono counsel for the associations. “The drivers have been trying to work with the city and the Commission for years to resolve these issues, but have been routinely ignored. This step is necessary to have their voices heard.”

The suit contends that the city has refused to allow the commission to function, both by failing to appoint representatives of the taxicab industry to the commission as is legally required, and by usurping the commission’s authority to set rates properly.

The suit also alleges that the commission has acted unlawfully by failing to conduct a rate study that is required by law, failing to establish fair and reasonable rates, conducting unlawful public meetings that exclude input from taxicab drivers, and directing and allowing unlawful and harassing inspections of cab drivers.

Larry Frankel, chairman of the Dominion of Cab Drivers, stated, “D.C. law mandates that the taxicab industry has three seats on the Commission, which the District and Commission have prevented. We’re fighting for those seats so that we have a say when decisions are made that impact us and our livelihoods.”

Added William Lucas, spokesman for the D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Association, “The rate schedule hasn’t been adjusted since 2008, while our cost-of-living expenses have continued to increase. This is placing tremendous strain on the health and well-being of drivers, many of whom must work 12 to 16 hours a day simply to make ends meet. Unless the city and Commission act, many hardworking, middle-class drivers will be put out of work.”

Among other remedies, the lawsuit seeks an immediate end to mayoral control over the establishment of taxicab rates, requests that the commission undertake a comprehensive rate study as required by law, and seeks enforcement of the requirement that the Mayor fill three of the four open seats on the Commission with qualified taxicab industry members.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a leading international law firm, numbers more than 800 lawyers in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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