BUSINESS

$400 Million Class-Action Lawsuit Launched Against Uber In Ontario

07/23/2015 12:58 EDT | Updated 07/24/2015 03:59 EDT

On the same day that Uber announced a major expansion of its UberX ride service in Ontario, a Toronto-area cabbie has launched a class-action lawsuit against the service, seeking $400 million in damages over lost income.

Lawyers for Dominik Konjevic, a licensed taxi driver in Mississauga, say the claim is being made “ on behalf of all taxicab owners, taxicab drivers, taxicab brokers, limousine owners, limousine drivers and limousine service companies licensed, permitted or authorized to operate in the Province of Ontario.”

The lawsuit alleges that Uber and drivers for its UberX service “conspired to provide unlawful transport for compensation.” It says Uber violated the section of the provincial Highway Traffic Act that forbids drivers from picking up passengers for compensation without a licence.

In doing so, UberX “divert[ed] millions of dollars of revenue away from licensed taxicab, limousine owners and drivers in Ontario and injur[ed] their ongoing legitimate business interests,” law firm Sutts, Strosberg LLP said in a statement.

Typically, a court has to certify a class-action lawsuit before eligible members of the public — in this case taxi and limousine drivers — are allowed to join.

Uber on Thursday announced it is expanding its UberX ride service to four more cities in Ontario — Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and London.

Residents of these cities will be able to book Uber cars as of 2:00 p.m. Thursday, and the company has a promotion running — up to four free rides between now and Sunday.

Relations between Uber, the city and taxi drivers have been increasingly tense, with some cab drivers threatening to shut down Toronto, in an echo of the Uber riots in Paris, if the city doesn't crack down on the ride service.

The city of Toronto recently took Uber to court, seeking an injunction preventing the service from operating, arguing it violates Ontario traffic laws. The court denied the city's request, indicating it is a matter for legislators.

One city councillor, former Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, issued a statement warning Pan Am Games visitors to the city that they could be fined up to $20,000 for using UberX.

But city officials indicated that fines rarely reach those levels, and Uber has said it knows of no riders who have been charged with violating traffic laws. It argues the Highway Traffic Act applies only to vehicle drivers, not passengers.

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