Uber and Lyft are parasites, 14 local cab companies are claiming in a new lawsuit.
Less than a month after Uber and Lyft launched their ride-sharing services in Connecticut, 14 local cab and car companies yesterday filed a collective lawsuit against the startups in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut. The suit, unique for the number of transportation companies involved, alleges that Uber and Lyft “prey parasitically on established taxi and livery services.”
The plaintiffs, following the rhetoric of countless other transportation-startup lawsuits, claim the companies are “lying” to customers, “forcing taxi and livery drivers who sign up to violate licensing laws and contracts with vehicle owners, and discriminating unlawfiilly [sic] against handicapped, elderly and less wealthy users of public transportation.”
Key to this lawsuit and many others is Uber’s network of drivers, who function as independent contractors, or small businesses — not employees. Such a system allows Uber to function as a technology layer for these contractors; the two companies “own no cars, no certificates, no permits, no plates, and employ no drivers,” the lawsuit states.
In short, the Defendants prefer to pay nothing for infrastructure and profit from the investment of lawful certificate, permit, and plate users … The Defendants adopt illegal methods because they can only operate profitably by misappropriating the infrastructure of existing taxi and livery services. There are dozens of smart phone taxi dispatching apps, any one of which could — if they chose to operate illegally — beat the Defendants at their own game.
Uber and Lyft’s ongoing legal battles are the result of the firms’ entrance into a highly regulated industry with little legal protection for non-traditional transportation services. The rapid rate at which both companies have expanded is fueling the litigious flame.
Uber now faces roughly 14 lawsuits in the U.S., while Lyft, smaller in size, faces roughly half that number, according to legal documents obtained by VentureBeat.
The legal complaints, in full: