Uber accused of price-fixing in $150M lawsuit by Edmonton taxi companies
Companies accuse ride-sharing service of "continued defiance" of city bylaws
A collection of taxi companies in Edmonton have filed a lawsuit against ride-sharing service Uber.
The group — which includes the Greater Edmonton Taxi Services, Alberta Co-op Taxi Lines, and 24-7 Taxi Line — filed the suit Monday.
They accuse the company of intentionally flouting city of Edmonton's bylaws regulating vehicles for hire as well as the Traffic Safety Act and the federal Competition Act.
The claim accuses Uber of allowing drivers to operate vehicles-for-hire without proper driving licenses or commercial insurance, despite being explicitly informed they were acting in violation of the city's rules.
It also cites city regulations that say vehicles-for-hire must have a metering device approved by the municipal government, and must be registered as a taxi broker.
The cab companies' lawsuit further alleges that Uber has also conspired to violate section 45 of the Competition Act by fixing prices.
It claims that under the act, Uber is considered a competitor to its drivers — since Uber, not the individual drivers, set the prices for fares, the lawsuit says the company "has unlawfully conspired with the Defendant Drivers to fix prices of (vehicle-for-hire) services" in Edmonton.
Uber has long said that its drivers are not full employees, but should be considered independent contractors. The suit claims that if this is the case, Uber is still price fixing by setting the prices charged by competing drivers.
The lawsuit asks for $150 million in general damages, due to economic harm the companies say they have suffered due to Uber ignoring city bylaws.
As well, it seeks an injunction to stop the company and its drivers from operating in a way that violates the bylaws.
Uber has not filed a statement of defence. The company declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Edmonton may become the first city in Canada to legalize the service; city councillors are expected to debate a bylaw this week that would regulate ride-sharing companies.
However, both Uber and taxi companies have dismissed the proposed bylaw.
Uber said it would be too much of a burden on drivers, while cab companies say it creates an unfair advantage for the company.