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Conway proposes “per-trip fee” to cover Ottawa judgement

City has not responded to letter

Tom Conway, the litigator whose team won the recent Ottawa judgement in which Uber was declared a “bandit taxi company,” has written the City to propose a per-trip fee to compensate Taxi drivers who were plaintiffs in the suit.

Tom Conway, founding partner of Conway Litigation. Image: Conway

“We wish to renew the idea that a potential settlement could involve a funding mechanism of a nominal fee charged per ride for all private transportation companies, including Uber and taxis,” Conway wrote Ottawa’s legal counsel in a letter on May 28th.

“This idea was raised several times pre-trial, including at the pre-trial conference. This approach would enable the City to recover the settlement amount through these fees from those who use private transportation and taxi services and would avoid burdening the City’s ratepayers with the cost of funding payment of a substantial award,” Conway suggested.

On May 13, Ontario Superior Court judge Marc Smith ruled the City was negligent in its enforcement of the Taxi Bylaw when Uber began operating in Ottawa in 2014. Metro Taxi Ltd., Coventry Connections president and CEO Marc Andre Way and taxi plate holder Iskhak Mail filed a class action lawsuit against the city in 2016, seeking $215 million.

Justice Smith did not make a decision on damages owed to plaintiffs but instead directed the parties to speak to each other and attempt to come to an agreement.

“This (per trip fee) appears to us to be a principled option worthy of further discussion and consideration. In our view, this approach should be revisited now that the Court has determined the City’s liability to the plaintiff class.

“We remain open, of course, to any other proposals for settlement that the parties may table for discussion should your client agree to engage in further settlement discussions,” Conway notes in his letter to Todd Burke of Gowlings.

“Regardless of whether the City is interested in mediation or settlement discussions, we would like to schedule a trial management conference with Justice Smith in June to set up a timeline for the continuation of the trial. If the parties settle the action before the continuation of the trial, we can vacate the additional trial dates.”

To date, Ottawa has not responded to Conway’s letter.