September 29, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Armenian-American Cab Drivers Sue Santa Monica: Group alleges violation of constitutional rights over franchise application rejection

For an updated version of this story, click HERE.

An association that counts more than 300 cab drivers of Armenian descent among its members has filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Monica on Dec. 21 alleging violation of constitutional rights and civil code stemming from the city’s action in denying the group’s members permits to work in the city.

Two days later, Los Angeles County Judge Robert O’Brien granted the cab drivers a preliminary injunction that suspends the implementation of the franchise system – schedule to go in effect next week – until a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 7.

The preliminary injunction hearing was set for Jan. 7, said Tamar Arminak of the law firm Geragos and Geragos, which is representing the Taxi Drivers’ Association of Santa Monica.

In the 20-page complaint, the association explains that prior to the city’s recent adoption of a franchising system to limit the number of taxicabs in the city to 250, 35 of 44 taxicab companies operating in Santa Monica were Armenian-American owned and operated. With the franchise system in place, five of the 13 applications came from Armenian-American companies of the 44 companies filed franchise applications.

The main argument of the case is that the companies “effectively run out of the city” when Santa Monica officials announced in June that only five franchise licenses would be granted – and none of the companies selected from the 13 applications were Armenian-American owned or operated.

“Most of the Armenian taxi drivers updated their vehicles, updated their dispatch systems, hired legal counsel and effected other changes to their businesses in order to ensure that they would be granted licenses by the city,” according to the complaint.

Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Wednesday evening.

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