NEW ORLEANS - The city was dealt another setback Tuesday in its attempt to launch a package of reforms for New Orleans taxi cabs. For the second time this week, a federal judge extended a temporary restraining order, this time until a hearing on Aug. 14.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon had previously extended the TRO until Friday, ruling that cab drivers have shown “good cause to extend the temporary restraining order until it may properly consider the issue.”
Now the new rules cannot take effect for at least another two weeks. They originally were to become effective on Aug. 1, with individual cab drivers mandated to upgrade their taxis by the time of their annual inspections and license renewals.
The new rules require cab drivers to have everything from credit card machines to navigation devices to air-conditioning. The controversial measures -- protested by many cabbies as onerous and costly -- are being challenged in two separate lawsuits.
In the state lawsuit filed in Civil District Court, Judge Paulette Irons had earlier issued a temporary restraining order, calling the reform measures “unlawful.”
The city responded by moving the state case to federal court, where a second lawsuit by taxi cab owners had already been filed. With the lawsuit being transferred to federal court, Judge Irons cancelled a hearing scheduled for today, but Judge Fallon extended her restraining order and scheduled his own hearing on the matter.
The city stated it is eager for the court hearing so it can try to get the taxi industry reforms back on track.
“The TRO is not on the merits of the case,” city spokesman Ryan Berni said in an earlier statement. “We believe the law is on our side and hope to be able to move forward with our common sense reforms,” Berni said.
In their two lawsuits against the city, several cab company owners and drivers challenged the new measures. In the suit filed in state court, the plaintiffs say the city’s mandates “will cause undue financial burden on the taxicab industry and effectively put the named plaintiffs and many other taxicab owners out of business.”