EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 12, 2013

Judge: City can't keep taxis out

Out-of-town cabs can return to Lawrence


Attorney William DiAdamo, who represents the city in the federal court case, last night declined to comment on the ruling. He said he hadn’t had a chance to brief city officials on the judge’s decision yet and will withhold comment until he does.

Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said he was unaware of the judge’s ruling. He declined comment.

Caruso blamed the City Council for creating the recent controversy surrounding the towing of out-of-town cabs for picking up Lawrence residents who requested them.

“They took a facially enforceable ordinance and made it unconstitutional by removing one paragraph on Dec. 4, 2012,” Caruso said

“By removing that paragraph, they in effect prohibited any and all taxicabs outside Lawrence from either entering Lawrence or driving through Lawrence. Not only is it unconstitutional, but it defies common sense,” Caruso said.

The revised ordinance grew from protests by the seven taxi and livery companies that the city licenses. The company owners complained that the cost of doing business is greater for them, in part because the cost of insuring a vehicle in Lawrence is higher than in surrounding municipalities, and so they should be protected from out-of-town companies who can undercut their fares.

City councilors voted to delete the following language from the ordinance at their Dec. 4, 2012 meeting:

“However, nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting a driver of a taxicab or livery licensed outside the City of Lawrence from driving through the City of Lawrence, or from accepting within the City of Lawrence, a passenger, passengers, packages or other merchandise if summonsed by or at the request of said passenger or client by telephone, or by radio dispatch from the owner or operator’s principal place of business outside the City of Lawrence provided that the name, pick-up address, and destination of said passenger or client are immediately supplied by the driver to any inquiring Police Officer.”

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