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Posted June 24, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Taxi drivers file a civil complaint against competitor

Cab companies claim city code was violated

By Alex Bridges - abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — A group of taxi cab companies claims a Harrisonburg-based competitor violated the city code by giving people rides in Winchester.

Yellow Cab Company, Polly’s Cab Inc. and Taxi USA Inc. filed a civil complaint against Benish Corp., trading as Royal Cab and Limo, and Sohail Gull Afridi. The complaint, filed Friday in Winchester Circuit Court, identifies the defendants as having a Harrisonburg address “or where they can be found.”

Polly’s Cab owner John Nelson; Ron Pruitt, owner of Taxi USA; and Randy Cadmus, owner of Yellow Cab, are named as plaintiffs in the civil complaint. The three Winchester companies operate under a “certificate of public convenience and necessity,” according to the complaint.

Charlottesville attorney J. Benjamin Dick represents the plaintiffs.

“The defendants by their own admissions both in public and otherwise did unlawfully operate and unlawfully infringe upon the lawful operations of your plaintiffs’ taxi services without first obtaining a certificate [from] the city council for a period of 7 months and continue to do so without a city council approved certificate,” the complaint states.

The defendants run taxi cabs in Winchester “under a temporary license not approved or issued or granted by the city council and secured by misleading the issuing authority and practicing an actual or implied fraud upon your plaintiffs and/or the city council and the city of Winchester and upon its residents,” according to the complaint.

Multiple complaints have been made against the defendants, the document states.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the defendants’ operation to be “an unlawful infringement of the rights of the lawful taxi services owned by the plaintiffs;” to find the defendants in violation of the city code and to issue a permanent injunction against Royal Cab; and to appoint a commissioner to find out how much money the company made by offering the service in the city.

Earlier this month taxi cab drivers spoke out against what they saw as a proposal to weaken the city’s ability to regulate the business. Winchester officials contend the proposed changes to the ordinance on taxi services would tighten the rules. City Attorney Anthony Williams and Councilman Evan Clark agreed to meet with the local cab company representatives to discuss the proposal.

Also, Cadmus claims Afridi made threats to him over the phone during an argument earlier this month. A driver for Royal Cab left his vehicle in front of Sweet Caroline’s on West Cork Street and blocked a Yellow Cab from dropping off a passenger, Cadmus said by e-mail. Cadmus states he asked the Royal Cab driver to move but the person did not, so Cadmus called the number on the taxi and a person with the business said they had the certificate required to operate in the city.

Minutes later, Cadmus said Afridi called him on his cell phone and first asked why Cadmus was talking to his driver, then proceeded to threaten Cadmus and his mother, who serves as president of Yellow Cab.

Cadmus said he filed a criminal complaint earlier this month with the Winchester magistrate’s office against Afridi alleging he made threats. Afridi was not available for comment Tuesday evening, according to an employee who answered the phone at the business.

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