8th Circuit Allows More Minneapolis Cab Drivers


     (CN) – An order uncapping the number of taxi licenses in Minneapolis does not violate cab drivers’ constitutional rights, the 8th Circuit ruled. The court said license holders have no property interest in the market value of their licenses.

     The Minneapolis Taxi Owners Coalition, which represents 75 license holders, claimed they were denied due process and fair compensation when the city removed the license ceiling in 2006.
     In a March 2007 lawsuit, the group said that by opening a previously closed market, the ordinance reduced license values to nothing. The licenses initially cost around $500, but were worth between $19,000 and $25,000 resale.
     But the group didn’t have standing to sue, the district court ruled, because they held no interest in the market value of the licenses.
     The St. Louis-based federal appeals court affirmed dismissal of the suit.
     “The taxicab licenses themselves do not carry an inherent property interest,” Judge Melloy wrote, because they have no guaranteed minimum value.
     At a 2006 city council hearing to review license limits, cab drivers fought to keep the cap, complaining that there was not enough business to support the increased competition. But economists said removing the cap would boost jobs and the level of service, and would encourage more wheelchair-accessible cabs, service to minority communities and environmentally friendly cabs.
     The order requires new taxicab companies to make 10 percent of their fleet fuel-efficient and 10 percent wheelchair-friendly. For existing companies, this requirement is lowered to 5 percent until 2010, when it will jump to 10 percent.
     The 8th Circuit said the coalition lacks standing, because the requirements apply only to licensed service companies, not to individual license holders. The coalition claims no affiliation with service companies, the judges noted.
     The court also rejected the coalition’s takings claim and due process claim.
     The approved plan will increase the number of licenses by 45 a year until 2010, when the cap will be removed completely.

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