NEW ORLEANS -- A package of reforms for New Orleans taxi cabs will not go into effect Wednesday as scheduled after a federal judge Monday extended a restraining order issued earlier by a state judge.
The order by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon is a setback for the city, which now must wait until a court hearing on Friday to argue its case.
In his order, Fallon ruled that the cab drivers have shown “good cause to extend the temporary restraining order until it may properly consider the issue.”
The new rules include mandates for cab drivers to have everything from credit card machines to navigation devices to air-conditioning. The controversial measures -- protested by many cab drivers as onerous and costly -- are being challenged in two separate lawsuits.
In the state lawsuit filed in Orleans Parish 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, Irons cancelled a hearing scheduled for today, but 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. “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.”