EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 12, 2013

Judge: Lawrence can't keep taxis out

Out-of-town cabs can return

LAWRENCE — City police can no longer prevent out-of-town cab drivers from dropping off or picking up passengers in the city, under a federal court order issued this week.

“The Court finds that there is evidence that law enforcement officers of defendant City of Lawrence, Massachusetts ... are not acting in compliance with the City’s taxi cab ordinances,” U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton wrote in a two-page ruling that also prohibits police from keeping out-of-town cabbies from driving through the city.

In granting a preliminary injunction sought last month by Andover Central Transportation Corp. to prevent police from enforcing the ordinance, the judge noted that the company’s claims had merit and that it would be “at risk of suffering irreparable harm if injunctive relief is denied.”

“When I went before the City Council, all I was trying to do was to prevent them from the embarrassment of a federal court order — and they didn’t listen to me,” Andover attorney Peter J. Caruso said in an interview yesterday. Caruso represents the cab company and five of its drivers, who have alleged that the city wants to drive away the out-of-town cabbies in an effort to protect the business interests of three companies that hold 123 of the city’s 150 medallions.

“You have nine city councilors who just didn’t use common sense. I think everybody in the city and in the world questions why a taxi cab couldn’t have entered the City of Lawrence unless it is licensed by City Hall. So, the judge’s decision was really no surprise,” Caruso said.

“The bottom line is the City of Lawrence is enjoined and restrained from enforcing its own ordinance by a federal judge. That’s a powerful order. I have not seen this before,” he said.

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