ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - There are new charges being leveled against drivers at the ride sharing company Uber here in St. Louis. A lawsuit claims some of the operators should not be driving. The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission filed the suit and already people are taking sides. Brian Kawa works in downtown St. Louis, “I think it’s unfair I think they’re just trying to stop them and they’re trying to find loopholes to find out they could do it.”
In the suit the commission contends of the 19 Uber drivers it checked, 11 didn’t have a commercial driver’s licenses as required by law, none had a taxicab commission license and none has submitted to background checks. It claims one driver had a larceny conviction while another has an outstanding warrant in Wellston and because of that a suspended license. Chuck Billings is the attorney for the commission, “Missouri state law requires every vehicle that transports individuals to have a background check of the individual its state law.”
Uber St. Louis General Manager Sagar Shah says in a statement:
“We’re not surprised the MTC is yet again trying to stifle competition and deny people the transportation choices they have in other cities. Their anti-competitive conduct is not only wrong - it's illegal.
"We look forward to resolving our case in court and continuing to serve the people of St. Louis with safe rides and more economic opportunities.”
Uber began operations in St. Louis in violation of the Missouri law on September 18th. The company says St. Louis is the largest metropolitan area in the country not to allow Uber-X. The problems center on fingerprinting and drivers passing drug testing.
Most Uber employees drive their own cars, and are subjected to a background check. Defying regulators Uber-X took to the streets last month. They say they had 5,000 rides during the first weekend of operations. Uber says 2,000 of those rides came between 10 pm and 3 am suggesting Uber helped people avoid driving under the influence in its first weekend of operation. The Taxicab Commission says its drivers average 300 rides on weekends.
Jack Williams also works downtown, “I think a background check is a good idea but they could make the process less cumbersome I think competition is good so I’m on Uber’s side.”
The commission’s attorney added, “We’re enforcing our code as mandated to us by the state law we don’t have any discretion we can’t waive that we can’t waive these requirements.”
Uber filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission in September for anti-competitive conduct in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The suit sought a temporary restraining order to allow the service to operate freely for two weeks. A judge denied that request.
A Wellston court official said the driver in question does not have a suspended license but does have an outstanding warrant for not paying a $95 traffic fine for improper use of a signal. The man accused of larceny said they have the wrong guy, that he has never been convicted of stealing.
Both sides will be at a hearing in St. Louis County Courthouse set for October 13th at 10 a.