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: