Taxi drivers file civil rights suit against City of Jackson
Mississippi Justice Institute aids small business entrepreneurs against “anti-competitive, arbitrary and irrational regulations”
(JACKSON) – With the assistance of the Mississippi Justice Institute, two Mississippi taxicab drivers have filed suit against the City of Jackson for violating their Constitutional rights of due process and equal protection through anti-competitive, arbitrary and irrational regulations.
Plaintiffs, John Davis of Jackson and Shad Denson of Star, wish to start their own taxicab companies but are prevented by Jackson’s regulatory scheme, which limits competition with established taxicab companies.
Mike Hurst, counsel for the plaintiffs and Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute, said, “John Davis and Shad Denson are hard-working citizens who simply want an equal opportunity to earn a living in their profession without the government choosing sides and forcing them to work for someone else. They’re not seeking special treatment, just fair treatment. They’re not seeking a handout, just a fair shake. Jackson’s anticompetitive, arbitrary and irrational governmental regulations violate my clients’ constitutional rights and create a road block to their opportunity to create a new business, while giving established taxicab companies an express lane to operate under a special set of rules. While Jackson has deregulated the market for big national companies like Uber, it is past time that they stand up for our citizens and level the playing field so that we all may benefit.”
Davis began driving a taxicab in the early 1990’s and eventually purchased his own car, and then additional cars, but has been forced to pay an entrenched taxicab company in Jackson in order to do business in the city. “The government should not be picking winners and losers. All I want to do is create and run a business without being held back. My dad and I both were cab drivers, and for too long we’ve been prevented from truly providing for our families. I just want to live the American dream,” Davis said.
Denson described a similar experience, “For fifteen years, I’ve had to pay others for the right to work in Jackson. All I am asking for is the opportunity to create and build a business and a legacy to leave to my family. I just want the freedom to create jobs, provide better service to the public, and control my own destiny. “
Davis and Denson seek a declaratory judgment from the Court that the City of Jackson has violated the Mississippi Constitution through its anti-competitive, arbitrary and irrational requirements. They also ask for an order permanently prohibiting the City of Jackson from requiring an applicant for a taxicab “Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience” to do or to have the following: (1) Mississippi residency for six months prior to applying; (2) a Jackson business license; (3) an office in Jackson; (4) its vehicles domiciled in Jackson; (5) an office staffed 24 hours a day; and (6) at least eight vehicles under its company.
Forest Thigpen, president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, announced last week the creation of the Mississippi Justice Institute as the Center’s legal arm to represent Mississippians whose state or federal Constitutional rights have been threatened by government actions. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst serves as the Center’s General Counsel and as Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute.
Thigpen said, “This is the type of case we will focus on: ones where the people are being limited by a government agency from pursuing a genuine, legitimate dream or where they are being kept from acting within a legitimate Constitutional right. We believe government should be limited, not limiting.”