Lawsuit Alleges City Failed To Collect Fees For Up To 37,175 Uber Violations Millions Could Be At Stake

Elliot Flood, a once successful owner-operator of several New Orleans taxi cabs, is fighting mad. When Uber and Razier, a limited liability company wholly owned by Uber that employs the drivers, apparently began operating in New Orleans in 2013 and 2014 even before the City Council passed legislation authorizing the new industry, cab drivers like Flood became a dying breed.

Flood and other cabbies have always been strapped with significant fixed expenses including the cost of a medallion required to operate, commercial insurance, annual vehicle inspections, background checks and permit fees.

Uber and its drivers have far fewer requirements. Despite the uneven landscape, between 2017 and 2019 Uber/Razier incurred 37,175 violations for breaking city ordinances they were required to follow such as failure to require background checks and putting cars on the road that are not certified.

What happened to these violations is the subject of a motion to compel that was filed Thursday, November 30 in Civil District Court on behalf of Flood and other plaintiffs.

The legal filing seeks to force the city to produce the documents related to the 37,175 violations and demonstrate that they were either adjudicated through an administrative hearing process or collected by the city.

The plaintiffs believe the original documents still exist but that Uber has apparently engaged in an elaborate effort perhaps with the cooperation of the Administration to make the documents – and the money potentially owed to the city- disappear.

Supporting the plaintiff’s claims that the violations are real are two former high-ranking city officials. In 2019 Uber deposed Wesley Pfeiffer, then Deputy Director of Safety & Permits which supervised the Taxicab Bureau. Pfeiffer testified that the amount of the alleged violations could be as high as $35 Million. Each of the 37,175 violations carries a fine of $500.

Former Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni who served under Mitch Landrieu and is now working to re-elect President Joe Biden, stated in a deposition earlier in 2023 that the violations did exist.

The City of New Orleans has already missed several deadlines to produce copies of the 37,175 violations requested in the motion. “For some reason, nobody at City Hall has been able to explain what happened to the fines related to 37,175 violations,” the legal filing contends.

Judge Ellen Hazeur is handling the suit which was originally filed in 2018. It is not known at this time when a hearing on the motion will take place.

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