After a judge ordered Germantown Cab Co. to cease operations in the city last week, Philadelphia Parking Authority attorney Michael Casey said “we want every member of the riding public to be able to enter a cab and feel confident that they are stepping into a safe cab.”
However, as he prepared for Thursday morning’s hearing on the matter in Harrisburg, the company’s attorney, Michael Henry, told NewsWorks that GCC isn’t even governed by the PPA.
He said he hopes to have last week’s decision stayed because of that jurisdictional overstep.
The shutdown was based on PPA claims that GCC failed to turn over proper documentation and background checks for its drivers. An estimated 150 cabs were effected.
As Henry tells it, though, when the PPA took over regulating medallioned cabs in Philadelphia in 2005, GCC remained under the state Public Utility Commission’s jurisdiction, and remains so today. As such, the PPA has no hold over them. (Update: The cab company is still overseen by PUC because it was among several companies grandfathered in at the time the PPA took over.)
In the years since, GCC has passed annual inspections and, in a few cases that cabs didn’t, remedied violations in short order, he said.
Since 2011, the GCC and PPA have been at legal odds, and Henry maintained that led to this spiteful shutdown.
A legal grudge?
“This dispute is over paperwork. We didn’t get a chance to present a defense,” he said this week. “We’re perfectly willing to abide by the court’s decision. We just want our day in court. They jumped the gun and shut us down before a hearing.
“This is more of a temper tantrum from the PPA because settlement negotiations [in the ongoing case] broke down.”
Attempts to get comment from the PPA regarding the case were unsuccessful this week.
What happens tomorrow
Henry said he will seek a stay on the PPA order in Commonwealth Court on Thursday morning.
That would last through the resolution of the ongoing case which centers on the GCC stance that the PPA adopted a set of regulations without following state rules like allowing public comment and publishing them beforehand.
“We challenged [them] in court, and they were very unhappy that we were standing up and saying that ‘you’re doing something that’s illegal,'” Henry said.
“It’s clear that there’s animus here,” he continued. “They don’t want us to have a fair hearing because they’re not too successful when we go to court.”
Thursday’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, 601 Commonwealth Ave. in Harrisburg. If GCC fails in their attempt to have the previous order stayed, Henry said the PPA could begin impounding vehicles.