The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to dismiss a suit filed by Florida taxicab companies against Miami-Dade County over taxicab medallions.
Checker Cab Operators Inc., B&S Taxi Corp. and Miadeco Corp. sued Miami-Dade County after the appearance of transportation network entities (TNEs), such as Uber and Lyft, in the county. The cab companies claimed the county violated their rights by allowing the TNEs to operate.
Miami-Dade County’s transportation for-hire system used to revolve around medallions. In order to legally operate a taxicab within the county, it was necessary to purchase a medallion. The system was established in 1998 and there are a host of regulations guarding the use and sale of the medallions.
The 11th U.S. Court of Appeals, in its Aug. 6 ruling, found that the plaintiffs’ claims against the county were inadequately supported.
“The county generally limited the total number of medallions in circulation. By maintaining their scarcity and permitting their alienability, the county nurtured a secondary market ... By 2014, the medallions traded for approximately $340,000,” the appeals court ruling noted.
In June 2016, Miami-Dade's medallion owners filed the class action lawsuit alleging the county’s decision to allow TNEs “effected a ‘taking’ of their medallions without just compensation in violation of the United States and Florida Constitutions.” The medallions’ value sank after Uber and Lyft began operating, the suit alleged.
However, the court said, “Although the medallions enabled their holders to provide for-hire transportation services, they conferred no right to block competition. ... Since the diminution of the medallions’ value derived solely from exposure to new competition, their takings claims could not succeed.”
The plaintiffs also argued that they were denied equal protection under the law. This claim was found to be unsubstantiated as well.
“The medallion holders also claim that the county subjected them to more burdensome background-check requirements than TNEs,” the ruling states. “Again, their claim is belied by the code, which imposed essentially identical requirements on each.”