Portland Sedans

Speed's Auto Services v. Portland
Protectionism in Portland, Oregon

IJ Client Mike Porter

Institute for Justice client Mike Porter is being blocked by the city of Portland, Ore., from providing discounted car service to consumers.

Video: Portland Minimum Fare Laws
Video: Portland Minimum Fare Laws

Can the government bar entrepreneurs from offering competitive prices, online discounts and prompt service merely to protect politically powerful insiders from competition?

That is the question the Institute for Justice (IJ) and its clients seek to answer though a federal lawsuit they have filed challenging Portland, Oregon’s anticompetitive limousine and sedan regulations.

In 2009, the Portland City Council passed two measures designed to protect the city’s taxicab companies from competition at the expense of both consumers and limousine and sedan services: first, limos and sedans must charge $50 minimum for rides to or from the airport and, second, limos and sedans must charge at least 35 percent more than taxicabs charge for any other trip. As if these regulations were not punishing enough, customers are required to wait a minimum of one hour before a limo or sedan can pick them up.

Not surprisingly, Portland’s taxicab companies requested these regulations. What is surprising is that Portland agreed to impose higher transportation costs on Portlanders and put strict limits on limo and sedan entrepreneurs, just to make it easier for the city’s taxicab companies to make more money. As IJ points out, that is hardly a wise or constitutional use of government power.

Recently, the city’s Revenue Bureau clamped down on Groupon.com promotions offered by two Portland limo and sedan companies, Towncar.com and Fiesta Limousine. When the companies offered discounted fares to their customers—$32 one-way trips to the airport or up to 30 miles elsewhere in Portland—city enforcers immediately threatened the companies with a combined $895,000 in fines and suspension of their operating permits. In response to the controversy, the city has publicly stated that its job is to protect taxicab companies from competition by enforcing anti-consumer rules.

Portland cannot constitutionally seek to protect taxicab businesses from competition at everyone else’s expense. On April 26, 2012, IJ teamed up with Towncar.com and Fiesta Limousine and filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to vindicate the right of Portland’s limo and sedan operators to earn an honest living free from excessive government regulation.



Essential Background


Background on IJ's Portland Sedan Case

Client Photo

Launch Release: Government Outlaws Discounts?; Portland, Ore., Threatened $895,000 in Fines For Limo Entrepreneurs Who Offered Groupon Discounts (April 26, 2012) Client Video
Latest Release: Sedan Companies Vow to Appeal Federal Court’s Dismissal of Their Lawsuit (June 20, 2014)


 Legal Briefs and Decisions
Download: IJ's Complaint (April 26, 2012)
Download: Opinion denying motion to dismiss (April 30, 2013)
Download: Opinion granting city's motion for summary judgment (June 20, 2014)
Download: Brief on Appeal (Oct. 24, 2014)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


April 26, 2012

Court Filed:

U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon


Opinion denying motion to dismiss (April 30, 2013)

Opinion granting city’s motion for summary judgment (June 20, 2014) 

Current Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit



Appeal pending
Next Key Date:

Oral argument TBD


Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Portland Discount Transportation Lawsuit Moves Forward (May 1, 2013)

National Minimum Fare Map

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Protectionism in Portland Liberty & Law (June, 2012)
Video: Portland laws intentionally hurting limo companies, federal lawsuit claims KOIN-TV (April 26, 2012)
Video: Towncar companies set to sue after clash with city over fares KATU-TV (April 26, 2012)

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