State Supreme Court To Atlanta Cabbies: Fuggedaboutit!

May 15, 2017

The state’s highest court says Atlanta taxicab drivers aren’t entitled to compensation for losing their exclusive rights to pick up passengers.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Georgia sided with a lower court’s decision to dismiss a case brought by five city taxicab drivers.

They argued they had paid lots of money to follow regulations that don’t apply to drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

“If you’re operating in a regulated industry like taxi cabs, then you should expect changes,” said Bill Pannell of the message the ruling sends. “If those changes destroy you financially, then it’s your own tough luck for relying on the government.”

Pannell represented the plaintiffs in the case, who said they shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to follow city and state regulations.

To operate a cab in Atlanta, you need a permit called a medallion. With only a limited number in circulation, they’re expensive.

But when state lawmakers passed a bill regulating ride-sharing in 2015, they didn’t require Uber and Lyft drivers to have medallions.

Taxicab drivers said that legislation devalued their permits and sued the state for damages.

“They’ve put their life savings into [the medallions] and now they’re left with something that just has very little value,” Pannell said, “That’s the sadness of it: these guys who relied on the government [while] investing their life savings, and now they’re wiped out.”

Pannell wasn’t surprised by the court’s decision. He said taxicab drivers across the country have fought ride-sharing services with little success.