Taxicab Drivers File $1 Billion Lawsuit Against Miami-Dade County

Taxicab drivers are suing Miami-Dade County for $1 billion, saying legalizing ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have left them fighting to survive.

A class action lawsuit was served to county officials Wednesday with cabbies seeking $1 billion in damages. The move comes less than 24 hours after commissioners legalized ride sharing.

Attorney Ralph Patino, who represents the cabbies, used a sports analogy to describe the case: "They decided to allow the team that does not abide by the rules to legalize them. Okay, so now you have to pay, and that is what this lawsuit is about."

That "team" in the analogy is Uber and other ride-hailing services.

County commissioners legalized ride sharing Tuesday night. Cabbies say the practice has been taking a huge chunk of money out of their pockets, especially those who purchased medallions, which are essentially for-hire licenses. The number was capped by the county at about 1,200.

They used to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars before ride hailing became common practice.

Super Yellow Cab owner Robert Rios said he's accumulated four over the years, costing him about $1 million.

"Just like me, there are hundreds of other drivers that did the same thing," Rios said.

"We are not in Russia where the government comes in and they take away a property without paying you a fair compensation and that is why we are seeking $1 billion in damages," Patino said.

County officials have heard from frustrated cabbies, saying they feel cheated by the changes.

Mike Hernandez, with the mayor's office, said: "The taxicab industry in the early 1990s and mid-1990s helped to create this environment. They wanted a monopolized system and it was not just in Miami-Dade County, it was throughout the country and what we are saying is those days are over."

Patino said he feels ridesharing services have destroyed the taxicab industry in Miami-Dade County.

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