Advertisement
  1. Transportation

Lawsuit: Hillsborough's new taxi permits cost drivers thousands

United Cab drivers wait to be called for riders Friday at Tampa International Airport. The company is a plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging Hillsborough County’s new taxi permitting system has robbed drivers of the value they previously held with taxi medallions. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Jul. 12

TAMPA — United Cab and a group of independent tax drivers are suing Hillsborough County, arguing they lost thousands of dollars when the county abolished its long-standing taxicab permit program in 2017.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in circuit court, the cab companies claim they are due compensation after the county got rid of the permits, sometimes referred to as medallions, and required taxicab owners to purchase new permits to operate for-hire vehicles in Hillsborough. Attorney Anthony Martino said his clients together held more than 250 of these medallions, and individuals are still joining the lawsuit.

"The government took our property from us, without paying us, nothing," said Shah Jahan, who started his own taxi service in 2016 and is a plaintiff in the suit. "All my savings are gone."

The change in permitting happened when the Legislature disbanded the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which had regulated cabs, limos and tow-trucks and was feuding with rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Unregulated rideshare companies entered the Tampa Bay market in 2014 without the same permits and licensing that the public transportation commission required of taxis and limos. Without the same financial burden, taxi companies argued the commission was creating an unfair playing field. Demand for legal ridesharing grew, and the commission struck a deal to legalize Uber and Lyft in 2016. But the state stepped in the next year and eliminated the commission, transferring its regulatory duties to the county.

When the county took over the permitting process, it negated the medallions, rendering them valueless, the lawsuit said.

"If the government is going to take property from you, they've got to pay you for it, and they've got to pay you the value of it when they took it," Martino said.

Martino said the price of individual medallions varied based on demand, but could cost more than $50,000. They could be sold or transferred to other drivers, and in some cases have been used as collateral to secure bank loans, Martino said.

Jahan, who had worked for other companies in Hillsborough since 2001 before launching his own, said he spent $40,000, including the cost of other fees, to obtain his permit in 2016.

"I had been trying for four or five years for this permit," he said. "I said, 'My dream is going to come true. I'll pay that money.' But now me and my wife, all that we have, all of our savings are gone and we're stuck with it."

Jahan's company is still operating, but he shifted most of his business to Pinellas County.

Hillsborough "has never offered to purchase the plaintiff's medallions, nor paid for damages for their taking of the taxicab medallions," the lawsuit said. "Hillsborough County, by its conduct or activities, has taken private property without a formal exercise of the power of inverse condemnation."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  2. In this April 24, 2019, photo, American Airlines aircraft are shown parked at their gates at Miami International Airport in Miami. A bail hearing is scheduled for a mechanic charged with sabotaging an American Airlines jetliner as part of a labor dispute. Prosecutors are seeking pretrial detention for 60-year-old Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani at a hearing Wednesday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    His arraignment on a sabotage-related charge is scheduled for Friday; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
  3. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  4. The Hillsborough County Commission listens to a briefing in June about the lawsuit challenging the county's one-cent transportation sales tax. On Wednesday, reacting to a judge's ruling in that case, commissioners voted to restore the guidelines originally approved by voters on how the tax should be spent. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
    Commissioner Stacy White, who is challenging the tax in court, was the only “no” vote.
  5. Tampa has a pilot program underway to test scooters. Clearwater could soon have one of its own. But if it's limited to downtown, who will use it? CHRIS URSO  |   Times
    The city’s plan is coming into focus, but there will be limitations.
  6. A study found that two of the worst intersections in the country for running red lights are in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times
    Two intersections are among the worst for running red lights
  7. Florida Department of Transportation workers inspect damage to the Interstate 175 overpass at Sixth Street S caused by a roll-off dumpster truck that left its hydraulic arm upright, according to St. Petersburg police. The incident sent concrete falling onto Sixth Street S below. Courtesy St. Petersburg Police Department
    Sixth Street S from Fourth Avenue S to Fifth Avenue S will be closed for up to three weeks for repairs, state officials say.
  8. Pasco County plans to reduce bus service to central Pasco. The route began in May 2017. Handout
    The cuts eliminate Saturday service and a route along Collier Parkway.
  9. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
    His infant daughter suffered life-threatening injuries, officials said.
  10. Hillsborough County will dedicate about $1 million each school year to employ crossing guards at all 43 of its public middle schools. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2014)]
    While the board’s new Democratic majority fought for modest increases in taxes and fees next fiscal year, the commission voted Thursday night to forego any changes to the millage rate.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement