St. Louis Cabbies Lose Lawsuit Against Uber

ST. LOUIS (CN) – A federal judge on Friday dismissed claims against Uber brought by taxi drivers who say they lost one-third of their income after the ride-hailing company entered the St. Louis market in defiance of state regulations.

In a federal class-action lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court in November 2015, four independent-contractor taxi drivers claimed they experienced a 30 to 40 percent decrease in revenue since Uber USA and Uber Technologies’ allegedly illegally entry into the local market.

In September 2015, the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, or MTC, voted to allow Uber to operate in the metropolitan area.

Uber then claimed that MTC’s requirement to have all of its drivers fingerprinted as part of background checks was overly burdensome.

Even though U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey denied Uber’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the requirement, the company began operating in St. Louis without fingerprinting its drivers.

In Friday’s ruling, Autrey sided with Uber and found that the taxi drivers’ amended complaint failed to satisfy the business-expectancy element of a claim for tortious interference.

“Rather than setting out a valid and reasonable business expectancy in obtaining customers for their taxi business, plaintiffs’ claims are based on the mere home that they will have customers for their taxis in the future,” the judge wrote in the 11-page opinion.

Autrey said the cabbies’ allegations that Uber interfered with customers were vague and did not include specific customers or facts that “regular” customers exist.

The judge also said that the taxi drivers failed to provide concrete allegations giving rise to a reasonable and valid business relationship.

“Plaintiffs’ allegations are nothing more than speculation, conjecture and guesswork without a substantial evidentiary basis,” he wrote, dismissing the lawsuit.

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