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Quebec Taxi Drivers Begin Class-Action Lawsuit Against Uber Legacy

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A trial is set to begin on April 2 in a class-action lawsuit against the Quebec government. The lawsuit alleges that the government caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for taxi permit holders by allowing ride-hailing company Uber to operate and ultimately abolishing the permit system.

Former permit holders claim that the government’s negligence resulted in the de facto expropriation of their taxi licenses without proper compensation in regions where Uber was active.

The statement of claim asserts that Quebec permitted Uber to flout taxi industry laws and regulations when the company entered the province in 2013. This led to a decrease in demand for taxi permits and a subsequent decline in their value.

Furthermore, the lawsuit argues that the government’s decisions, including the 2016 pilot project legalizing Uber’s operations and the 2019 reform that eliminated taxi permits, further devalued the permits owned by taxi drivers.

According to the statement of claim, the government’s actions allowed Uber to flood the market, resulting in a drop in permit prices. In 2015, a taxi permit in Montreal could fetch as much as $200,000, contributing to a market value of approximately $900 million for the city.

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However, with the entry of Uber into the market, the value of these permits plummeted as new players were unwilling to pay the inflated prices in a disrupted industry.

In 2019, years after Uber’s establishment in Quebec, the government passed a law abolishing the permit system and relaxing other regulations. Despite compensating permit holders, their legal representatives argue that many received approximately $150,000 less than the permits’ pre-Uber market value.

“For many, these permits were not only a significant financial asset but also their retirement fund and intended legacy for their children,” stated the law firm Trudel Johnston & Lespérance in a press release.

The class action, authorized in 2018, aims to secure compensation equal to the pre-2013 market value of a taxi permit in Quebec and $1,000 in punitive damages per group member.

The Quebec government contended that it was immune to legal action regarding its political decisions and disputed the lawsuit’s specific allegations.

The office of Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette declined to provide comments on April 1 due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

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