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Uber Beats Taxis in Philly

By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 28, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Not so many years ago, a taxi driver had to pay $545,000 for a medallion to operate in Philadelphia.

After Uber took over the City of Brotherly Love, however, that medallion was worth about $80,000. What was worse, the driver borrowed against it to buy a cab.

That is a substantial loss, but not damages. In Philadelphia Taxi Association v. Uber Technologies, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said it's just competition and it's not unfair.

Uber Beats

The taxi association, representing 80 companies, sued after Uber came to Philadelphia streets in 2014. They alleged it was unfair that the ride-hailing service did not have to comply with local regulations that apply to taxis.

The cab companies said ridership dropped by 30 percent, and nearly 1,200 drivers jumped to Uber. The loss of market value for a medallion? Forget about it.

A trial judge told them to forget about the lawsuit, dismissing the case because their losses were "not the type of injuries that antitrust laws were intended to prevent, and thus do not establish antitrust standing."

The appeals court agreed. Judge Marjorie Rendell, writing for the unanimous panel, said the plaintiffs did not allege any "truly anticompetitive conduct."

Just Business

Rendell said Uber may have hurt the taxi business, but that was just business.

"Inundating the Philadelphia taxicab market with Uber vehicles, even if it served to eliminate competitors, was not anticompetitive," she wrote.

Uber needed the win because it is facing similar claims in New York and other cities where taxi businesses are failing. Plus, the company has been paying large settlements in other cases recently.

Uber agreed in January to pay $20 million to settle a case with the Federal Trade Commission, and settled a case in February with Waymo for about $250 million.

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