Taxi lawsuit: Uber a crime syndicate that hates poor people and cancer patients and puts public safety at risk

A lawsuit by key members of the local taxi industry against upstart Uber is now a federal matter - San Franisco-based Uber yesterday had the suit transferred from state court to US District Court in Boston.

In the suit, Boston Cab Dispatch and EJT Management charge Uber, which lets customers use a smart-phone app to arrange a ride, violates state law, which requires taxis in Boston to carry medallions.

The companies charge Uber lets drivers refuse rides to certain neighborhoods. As East Boston residents know, city law prohibits medallion drivers from refusing rides there.

The companies also charge that Uber puts public safety at risk, in part because its drivers are easily distracted by requests to pick up passengers, in part because they are not required to purchase commercial driver's insurance to protect riders in the event of an accident, unlike medallion cabs, whose owners have commercial insurance.

The companies also charge the company discriminates against cancer patients because it does not accept city coupons for discount rides for them.

More public-safety concerns from the cab owners:

Knowing who really owns and controls medallions allows the Inspector to prevent taxi licenses from falling into the wrong hands and knowing the financial condition of medallion owners assists the Inspector in setting rates that are fair to owners and the public ... Uber knows virtually nothing about the stability, citizenship, criminal background, litigation record, affilations or true ownership and control of the black car and SUV owners it describes as "partners."

The suit was filed before the Globe reported how medallion owners convicted of bribing people associated with taxi regulation or of taxi-related tax evasion got to keep their medallions, and how at least one medallion is registered as owned by somebody who doesn't actually exist.

The cab owners charge Uber is committing online fraud by misrepresenting its fees and it's using allegedly ill gotten gains to muscle into the Boston cab market and wipe out legitimate cab owners and dispatch systems, all in violation of the federal Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations act.

Read the entire complaint below:

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Comments

Really?

>> in part because they are not required to purchase commercial driver's insurance to protect riders in the event of an accident, unlike medallion cabs, whose owners have commercial insurance. <<

Didn't we just learn from the Globe that most of the cabs in the city don't have ANY insurance, just a $10,000 per vehicle deposit in an interest bearing account with the State?

Right & Wrong.

Yes, that $10K deposit thing still exit but only very few left since the city trying to get rid of it. 99% of cabs on the road carrying commercial insurance.

If you wanna put yourself or your love ones into an unknown driver/cars, be my guest. Same way you driving without seatbelt/airbag, not to mention the driver could be a serial killer.

There are reasons why we need hackney system.

Another Eastie Resident

Another Eastie Resident here... and Uber is pretty much the only reliable way to get to and from the other side of the harbor at night. I have never been denied a ride on uber but pretty much guaranteed to get into a stand off with cabbies who refuse to take me.

Simple question.

Would you pay $5.25 outta your pocket after dropping off a fare of $12-15? Being picked up yes I felt your pains, but how often/many ppl would take cabs from EB to BOS?

Why not ask City of Boston to create EB Cab? Would that be more reasonable to ask?

No commercial insurance result broken legs

Hello if anything happen to you with uber driver then call uber or the city law then they will help you yeh trust me on that is you responsabilty for requesting unlicence cab or car service like uber /lyft /carside but if you got official cab or proper limo or car service Again NOT UBER if anything happen god for bad you will still get help and get rich and still eat and poop for the rest of u life even if you can't walk even if you have weelechair .

I like the part when

they claim:

Knowing who really owns and controls medallions allows the Inspector to prevent taxi licenses from falling into the wrong hands

Without mentioning their shell corporation game that hides who really owns medallions. I agree, lets look into ownership more, and make it more transparent! Uber is Uber! Who is Vickey Cap Co without a physical location or owner?

Nice to throw in cancer patients too. They forgot vets and little puppy dogs.

i've been in the limo biz a long time

and subsequently I've managed to accrue enough out of and in town clientele that I have not yet needed to sign up for Uber.

I also do a lot of entertainment and music clients and they travel year round, especially in the summer when most companies are slow, I'm usually slamming with touring bands.

My dead months are December and January, like everyone else.

i would pay...

... just to drive around with you for a few days while you drove *other* people. i think a limo ride-along sounds much more fascinating that a cop ride-along, and hopefully involves fewer guns ;)

A few weeks ago, I took a car

A few weeks ago, I took a car home from Harvard Square using Uber. It cost $47 and picked me up five minutes after I requested it.

Two weeks before that, I took a cab home from Harvard Square, after wandering around for 15 minutes trying to even find a cab, then being refused by two of them. The cab ride was $50 with tip.

The Globe's reveal that most of that money is going to go to a cab company exploiting its drivers makes me feel even better about Uber.

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I was going to ask, and sorry

I was going to ask, and sorry that it's slightly off topic, but has anyone done a comparison of Boston Cabs and Uber to get from the same point to the same destination at roughly the same times (ie, after work on a friday, a random tuesday afternoon etc.) to see what the cost difference actually is.

Every keeps saying Uber is "only a little bit more expensive" but as the above posters experience suggests, it's pretty much the same price, especially once you factor in the convenience, etc.

I remember last spring or so, the Globe had three of their reporters get from Copley to the Garden for a Bruins game using Hubway, Green Line and cab. Would love to see them do something similar for this. Or anyone for that matter.

Back to your regularly scheduled "Cabs in this city suck" comments.

Rate Comparison

I generally take an Uber home from my office downtown (near South Station) to my home in West Roxbury about once every week or so. It is usually on a Thurs or Friday evening between 7 and 10pm. Uber consistently costs me $54. A cab costs between $45 and $60. I have about 30 data points, 80% being Uber and 20% being cab.

The Cabbies consistently try to take longer routes and in general just skeeve me out. I have to keep a constant eye on where we are going. Uber drivers always take the way I ask, are more punctual and the ride is just nicer. The only time I use a cab is if Uber is busy or my phone battery is dead. The whole medallion system is a sham that only benefits the medallion holders and not consumers or drivers.

Rate Comparison

I generally take an Uber home from my office downtown (near South Station) to my home in West Roxbury about once every week or so. It is usually on a Thurs or Friday evening between 7 and 10pm. Uber consistently costs me $54. A cab costs between $45 and $60. I have about 30 data points, 80% being Uber and 20% being cab.

The Cabbies consistently try to take longer routes and in general just skeeve me out. I have to keep a constant eye on where we are going. Uber drivers always take the way I ask, are more punctual and the ride is just nicer. The only time I use a cab is if Uber is busy or my phone battery is dead. The whole medallion system is a sham that only benefits the medallion holders and not consumers or drivers.

And....?

Would it be worse if Uber was both giving better service at a CHEAPER rate than our generally shitty Boston area cabs?

I'm not seeing the issue here.

Our cab system is awful, and Uber (+ the other startups) is the creative destruction we need.

Brookline to Brighton

I regularly take a car from Brookline to Brighton (and yeah, turns out Brookline cabs are even more impossible to get, and that started even before the town decided to go to a medallion system!)and the fare is the minimum $15 vs. the $13 a cab would cost. Those two bucks are soooooo worth it to avoid the routine of calling Red Cab, waiting on hold for 15 minutes, then having to call back 20 minutes later when the cab hasn't shown, repeat. To be clear; I largely blame dispatch for these issues. I've use Uber to hail taxis with some issues (it is not nearly as reliable as their black car service), but still it a far more civilized way to hail a ride. The Uber taxi service rate on the same route mentioned above is identical to old-fashioned hailed taxi service.

Uber rates are slightly

Uber rates are slightly higher than cab rates, but the one time an Uber driver took me to my destination in a roundabuot way, I said as much in my comment when rating the driver, and was promptly given a credit by Uber who verified my complaint because the entire ride was tracked on GPS.

Oh my god........I'm a....criminal?

Well, after I clean up the tea from my monitor, I took a minute to reflect. OK, fine.

This is without a doubt one of the most bullshit pieces of litigation I've seen in my fifty one years on this planet.

First off, the complaint does not just indict Uber, but guys like myself and every other black car service in Boston. Now the funny part is that Eddie Tutunjian's partner in Boston Cab, Brett Barenholtz owns a black car service (Boston Car Service).

So essentially, in the language of the complaint as I read it, the business associate of the plaintiff is engaged in business activities that steal from.....the plaintiff?

Most of Tutunjian's other points are just as ridiculous, particularly the part about black car insurance. As I stated in a previous post, I own two cars that I pay almost eight thousand dollars a year in insurance for. Insurance that is denied to many chauffeurs both who own their car and who work for large companies.
They are denied coverage, because insurance companies don't like risk, so if you have any kind of black mark on your record ( and not just your driving record) they will deny coverage. I knew a guy who couldn't get insurance because his carrier discovered he did some time for fraud twenty years earlier!

So for them to say that black cars carry less insurance and the drivers are not scrutinized is bullshit. Especially in light of the sweetheart deal cab owners have enjoyed in terms of insurance for years. What is true is that the state or city does not really regulate black car services, and as someone who has been in the business almost thirty years,I can honestly say they do a good job regulating themselves.

I drive CEO's, rock stars, actors and royalty and have been security checked by the Secret Service and the State Dept when they've needed help with large diplomatic parties in the past. You think for one second that their people are going to let them get in a car with someone who has the bare minimum insurance?

I could go on about the bribery, the shit box cabs out there that only get fixed out of desperation and the overall fuck you attitude the Boston cab industry had had for years towards the citizenry, but thanks to the Globe and now this baseless lawsuit, the days of Eddie Tutunjian and Brett Barenholtz feeling like they can fuck over the people, the drivers and the City that made them rich may soon be over.

Don't hold your breath

"...the days of Eddie Tutunjian and Brett Barenholtz feeling like they can fuck over the people, the drivers and the City that made them rich may soon be over."

Yeah, right. Pull the other one. If this Globe article (or the lawsuit) results in any significant change to taxi regulations or medallion ownership in the next 24 months, I'll eat my hat.

State or Federal Attention

That might make a difference, since we do have some racketeering laws on the books.

There is also, as mentioned before, this thing called "initiative petition". It isn't used much in MA, but it has been used as a blunt object when the misbehavior of certain cities and their entitled city councelors/mayors (here's looking at you, Cambridge) resulted in the entire state getting to squash rent control.

I've heard that Boston is a

I've heard that Boston is a provincial little city where cash is king and talk is cheap. These medallion owners have a license to print money, and I'm hard-pressed to imagine any series of circumstances that would motivate the city enough to change that.

I'd love to be proven wrong, but if anyone in city government gave a tin shit about the quality of taxi service in Boston, they would have done something about it long ago.

People do drugs in cabs

Absolutely. I'm sure some residue could be found should Carmen Ortiz decide to make herself useful/redeem her organization by seizing medalions because those cabs must have transported somebody selling drugs at some time somehow!

Less flimsy than her attack on the family-owned property in Tewksbury.

I don't care about this topic either way....

But I do know one Boston Cabbie who was fired for a sexual assault complaint against a patron. The case was eventually dismissed (I believe because the victim did not want to pursue it), and this driver now drives for Uber because tecnically he dosen't have a record.

Hopefully it is an isolated incident, but the BPD can at least read reports and talk to victims to find out if the crime really happend or not. This way the City can make sure this person doesn't drive people ever again.

Then again, there is nothing against this driver getting a livery license either and driving that way.

Because the BPD does background checks.

And they can read on the report(s) that happened and call the victims or witnesses on their own.

He doesn't have a record becuase he agreed to a "Continued without a finding" if he didn't commit another crime for a certain time period. He basically admits to the crime, and agees to jail time if he breaks his probation terms. Then after that time is up, his criminal record says "dismissed" on it. If you ust looked at the record by itself you would never know that he admitted to sexually assulted another person. In fact in this case, he plead out to the lesser charge of "assault and battery".

Anyone with a brain who investigated this sexual assault would know that he actually did sexually assault this person (he claimed it was consensual with the passenger in the back seat).

This could be an isolated case, but in the future the public needs to make sure Uber is protecting us from this person.

I thought you said the victim didn't want to pursue?

If so, then why would there be a cont w/o finding? Aside from that, this option is often taken by people who are innocent simply as a way to avoid a lengthy and costly defense. I don't like the idea that the BPD then decides it will outside of court procedures decide guilt on their own. BPD simply doesnt have the integrity. He's innocent unless proven guilty, which he was not.

The victim doesn't get to drop charges here in MA

The state does.

And the defendant did not know whether or not the victim would come back anyway, and if I remember correctly, the victim was a student and had gong back home, and probably wasn't going back.

It isn't the publics fault that someone chooses to plead guilty because they can't afford a lengthy defense (which isn't true anyway, and this defendant admitted on videotape that he had touched her, but changed his story after the fact)

And it had nothing to do with the BPD, this is clearly outlined in the Hackney regulations (about continued and open cases effecting an applicant).

He was guilty, and admitted it.

I assume you would be ok with this guy teaching your daughter if he applied for a teaching job? Most HR would do a background check (asking why they left their last job), and the police have more resources.

that's because he's red

that's because he's red flagged by the bpd that regulates the hackeney carriage license so he cant renew that's why he went to uber i'm currently on the uber taxi app but thinking about going to black because I don't have to buy a new car every few years due to stict regulation by the bpd

One other thing..,

When someone off the street applies for a job with one of the larger limo companies, they are subject to a CORI check, a driving record check and initial and spot drug testing.

I wonder if this is common practice at Boston Cab.

The companies charge Uber

The companies charge Uber lets drivers refuse rides to certain neighborhoods. As East Boston residents know, city law prohibits medallion drivers from refusing rides there.

And yet, medallion drivers routinely refuse to drive to East Boston, but continually go unpunished for the infraction.

The cab owners charge Uber is committing online fraud by misrepresenting its fees and it's using allegedly ill gotten gains to muscle into the Boston cab market and wipe out legitimate cab owners and dispatch systems, all in violation of the federal Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations act.

"Legitimate" cab owners. That's cute. The only corrupt organization involved in racketeering I see here is the cab industry.

Compete, buy out or sue.

Boston Cab is suing solely because they refuse to compete and can not buy out Uber.

What does transferring the suit to Federal Court mean? Has Boston Cab bitten off more than it can chew?

will this case reveal more dirt than the Globe articles did? In a bizarre confluence of events in one year there will be three significant legal events that could each potentially reveal much of what many prefer to remain secret:

Bulger's trial
An election of someone other than the Mayor for Life
And now a federal civil suit that could reveal what lurks underneath the kimono hiding Boston Cab (thank you Robert Morse and Mad Men).

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