Toronto Taxi Owners Launch $1.7 Billion Class Action Over City’s Handling of Uber

The war between taxi owners and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have now escalated into a class action lawsuit, with cab companies suing the City of Toronto for $1.7 billion, reports The Star:

Toronto taxi owners and operators have launched a $1.7-billion class action lawsuit alleging the city has failed to properly regulate the private transportation industry and caused the value of taxi plates to plummet.

Three plaintiffs who are owners and operators of taxi services — Lawrence Eisenberg of Lucky 7 Taxi, Behrouz Khamza of Taxi Action and Sukhvir Thethi of Ambassador Taxi — are named as plaintiffs in a statement of claim filed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Aug. 21.

The plaintiffs have accused the city of failing to enforce its bylaws against private transportation companies such as Uber.

“The city failed to protect the various segments of the Toronto taxi industry — specifically those of plate owners — and the public, and was thus, negligent,” says the statement.

A statement of defence was filed by the city in September, denying allegations and seeking the case to be dismissed.

The case has not been certified by a judge yet, as the class action seeks more license-holders to join the lawsuit.

Lawrence Eisenberg of Lucky 7 Taxi says “This whole thing has become like a joke,” referring to the state of Toronto’s taxi industry, where taxi plate values have plummeted.

According to the Eisenberg, taxi plates were worth about $400,000 five years ago. But today, they are only valued at about $30,000, due to companies like Uber and Lyft entering the picture.

“My retirement just went down the tubes over the last couple of years,” Eisenberg added, noting how Toronto didn’t regular Uber and Lyft until “after the fact”.

The statement of claim says the 5,500 licensed taxi plates in the city have lost roughly $310,000 each, since private transportation companies like Uber arrived. That value works out to the $1.7 billion figure in the class action lawsuit.

City spokesperson Bruce Hawkins said in a statement to The Star they have filed a defence, “indicating our plan to have this matter heard by the court.”

In Quebec, a similar class-action lawsuit filed against the province by taxi companies was recently approved to proceed. The lawsuit alleges damages could reach up to $1 billion paid out to taxi companies, reports CTV News.

What do you think about the taxi industry versus private transportation companies like Uber and Lyft?