NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans civil court Judge Paulette Irons has issued a temporary restraining order that halts a package of taxi cab reforms that was set to take effect Aug. 1.
In an order issued late Friday, Judge Paulette Irons stated that she is “satisfied” that the legal issues raised by taxi cab drivers in their lawsuit against the city show “that immediate and irreparable injury, loss and damage will result by virtue of the defendant’s unlawful actions.”
Irons scheduled a hearing for July 30 for the city to argue why the new measures are not unlawful.
The new rules include mandates for cab drivers to have everything from credit card machines to navigation devices to air-conditioning, but the controversial measures -- protested by many cab drivers as onerous and costly -- were immediately challenged in court.
In their class action lawsuit against the city, several cab company owners and drivers challenged the new measures, saying drivers were not invited to participate in discussions that led to the legislative package.
Cab drivers celebrated the judges’ order upon hearing news Friday. The lead plaintiff in the class action suit -- Monroe Coleman, owner of Coleman Cab Co. – said the taxi cab community is only seeking “fairness.”
“We’re pleased with the judges’ decision,” Coleman said. “We don’t want to have to jump through hoops that other drivers and city contractors don’t have to jump through. We believe the new laws required our drivers to do too much, too fast at too much expense. The laws were unreasonable. All we want is fair play.”
The city expressed confidence that it will prevail in court and the new rules ultimately will be adopted.
In a written statement, City Hall spokesman Ryan Berni said, "We are confident the law is on our side. For more than a generation, our taxicabs have not met the high standards our residents and visitors deserve. After working with taxicab industry stakeholders for nearly two years, the City Council passed our sweeping reform package which is set to modernize the taxicab experience and improve taxicab passenger and driver safety in New Orleans by early 2013."
City Hall officials could not be reached late Friday for a response to the judge’s order.