- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A group of 45 Philadelphia taxi companies have filed suit in federal court against Uber’s ride-sharing service, calling the app-based enterprise unfair competition against medallion owners who have to operate under state laws and regulations.

The suit also names 18 individuals, including UberX drivers who are alleged to have operated illegally in the city.

Lead plaintiff Checker Cab Philadelphia and the others accused UberX of operating an illegal enterprise under the federal racketeering law and being in “blatant violation” of federal and state laws, The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1xd8KTK ) reported.

“Not since the days of bootlegging has there been a criminal enterprise so brazen and open as to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from investment bankers and to operate in blatant violation of federal and state law as Uber,” alleges the complaint filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Soon after the company announced operations in Philadelphia, the city’s parking authority impounded vehicles and fined drives in an undercover sting operation in October.

The lawsuit says Uber’s operations are damaging the value of taxi medallions to operate in the city, which currently cost about $520,000 each and have an estimated total value of about $880 million, according to one valuation cited.

As a result of the “unlawful competition of these defendants, the medallion taxicab plaintiffs suffered a significant reduction in the value of their medallions,” the suit alleges.

Uber on Wednesday vowed to “vigorously defend the rights of riders to enjoy competition and choice, and for drivers to build their own small businesses.”

The state’s Public Utility Commission last month granted UberX an experimental license to arrange private rides throughout much of Pennsylvania, although not in Philadelphia. But while acknowledging that the taxi industry needed innovation, the agency warned the company “to abandon its anarchist ways” and called the two-year license a “last chance” for the firm to cooperate with regulators.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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