Uber Technologies Inc., facing a legal backlash as it expands globally, was called a “criminal enterprise” in a lawsuit by Philadelphia cab companies seeking to block the on-demand car service from operating in the city.
“Not since the days of bootlegging has there been a criminal enterprise so brazen and open as to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from investment bankers and to operate in blatant violation of federal and state law as the Uber enterprise,” Checker Cab Philadelphia Inc. and other cab companies said in a federal court complaint on Dec. 23.
The Philadelphia cab companies contend the only taxis allowed to operate in the city are those that have an official certificate of public convenience and a medallion valued at as much as $520,000. Since the Uber drivers don’t have such a certificate and they don’t comply with local rules for vehicle and driver safety, the service is illegal, according to the lawsuit.
“Uber will vigorously defend the rights of riders to enjoy competition and choice, and for drivers to build their own small businesses,” Taylor Bennett, a spokesman for the San Francisco- based company, said in an e-mailed statement.
Lawsuits against Uber, Lyft Inc. and other car-booking companies have mounted this year as they seek to crack open the U.S. taxi and limousine market, estimated by IbisWorld Research to be an $11 billion industry. Uber, founded in 2009, is the most highly valued U.S. technology startup. The company raised $1.2 billion earlier this month at a valuation of $40 billion.
The case is Checker Cab Philadelphia Inc. v. Uber Technologies Inc., 14-cv-07265, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
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