St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Limo companies file suit over new permits

The companies want to block a potential competitor from receiving 12 permits.

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000

TAMPA -- Two area limousine companies have sued the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, charging that they were wrongly denied a chance to participate in hearings about applications from would-be competitors.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Hillsborough Circuit Court, seeks an injunction blocking issuance of any new cab permits until Julie's Limousine & Coachworks and Millennium Limousine Services are allowed to make a more formal case against the requested new service.

Julie's and Millennium are licensed by the commission to provide limousine service, with a minimum rate of $40 for the first hour and $25 an hour after that.

Resort Shuttle Inc. and CabPlus Inc. have requested 12 permits to provide "luxury taxi" service, in Lincoln Town Cars with dark-suited drivers, for a much lower rate.

Julie's and Millennium's lawsuit contends the proposed service is more like the service they provide, but that transportation commission director Gregory Cox denied them the right to intervene in hearings about the permits.

According to the lawsuit, Resort originally sought limousine permits for "luxury sedans" but were advised they would not be allowed to charge less than the limousine minimum. Resort then sought permits for "luxury taxicabs." Cab companies were notified and two of the largest did oppose the permits at hearings, but limo companies were not allowed to intervene at the hearings, the lawsuit says, which Julie's and Millennium contend is an unconstitutional denial of due process.

A hearing master will make a recommendation on the requested permits; the transportation commission makes the final decision.

Population limits the number of taxi permits in Hillsborough County, and the 12 sought by Resort and CabPlus are the last ones available out of the 484 allowed by law.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.