GRETNA – Jefferson Parish cabbies suing UberX drivers over alleged unfair trade practices are weighing their options now that a judge has dismissed their case.
Yvette D’Aunoy, the plaintiff cabbies’ lead attorney, did not respond to a Louisiana Record request for comment but reportedly has said her clients may modify their lawsuit, file a new one or appeal this week's dismissal to a higher court.
Judge Ellen Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, ruled earlier this week that the case's 20 plaintiffs had no cause of action in their case against a handful of UberX drivers. The lawsuit filed in February alleges the named UberX drivers picked up fares without parish-required certificate to do so.
Matt Coman, the attorney representing the UberX drivers in the case, countered the parish requirement does not apply to his clients and other UberX drivers like them because of a state law passed last year that addressed these issues.
The Jefferson Parish cabbies who filed the case had sought damages from Uber in addition to an injunction that would prevent UberX drivers from picking up riders in the parish. The plaintiffs, however, dropped that injunction request earlier this month, leaving only the damages request on the table in Tuesday's hearing.
Meanwhile in New Orleans, time is almost up for cabbies suing UberX drivers to refile their lawsuit. Earlier this month, New Orleans Civil District Court Judge Piper Griffin dismissed at least part of the plaintiffs' case, giving them 30 days to amend their complaint, which everyone involved in the case said they expected would happen. The cabbies also agreed to withdrew their request that Griffin require the 10 uberX defendants to stop driving until the lawsuit is decided.
The refiling has not yet happened and the deadline is early next week. D’Aunoy also represents the plaintiffs in that case.
A New Orleans area Uber spokesman told the Louisiana Record this week's dismissal in Jefferson parish was a victory for riders who choose to use the Uber app.
"Today's dismissal is a win for the people of Jefferson Parish who rely on Uber for access to safe, reliable transportation options and flexible work opportunities," Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons said. "We look forward to continuing our discussions with parish officials to develop a sensible, modern regulatory framework for ridesharing in the community."
Though the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish cases are unique because individual UberX drivers, rather than Uber, are being sue, the ride-share company continues to face an ever-growing number of cases, including two recently settled in Massachusetts and California.
"Uber is disappointed that the plaintiffs would pursue frivolous legal action in an attempt to limit transportation options and intimidate hard-working driver-partners who are trying to earn extra income by providing a valuable service in the community," Gibbons said.
Earlier this month, the way was made clear for UberX drivers to take riders into New Orleans from Louis Armstrong International Airport. The airport is owned by the city of New Orleans, but is situated in Kenner, which is a Jefferson Parish municipality.
Lyft began operating in New Orleans in March.