Challenging Denver's Taxicab Monopoly

Jones v. Temmer
IJ Breaks Up Denver's 50-Year-Old Taxi Monopoly


Institute for Justice President Chip Mellor poses alongside a Freedom Cab with IJ clients Ani Ebong, Girma Molalegne and Leroy Jones.

On August 1, 1995, three minority entrepreneurs launched Freedom Cabs, Denver’s first new taxi cab company in 50 years.  For the five decades prior to that day, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission refused to license any new cab company, citing laws and regulations that effectively denied entry to the market and firmly entrenched a three-company oligopoly.  But the Institute for Justice’s work in the court of law and in the court of public opinion changed that.

Representing minority taxi entrepreneurs and Reverend Oscar Tillman, who was the Legal Redress Chairman of the Denver NAACP, the Institute for Justice challenged those laws in 1993 as an unconstitutional infringement of economic liberty, the right of individuals to earn an honest living without arbitrary government interference.  In August 1993 the U.S. District Court in Colorado upheld the laws, ruling against IJ and its clients.

The Institute appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but in the meantime, the lawsuit drew the interest of the Colorado legislature, where IJ attorneys and clients testified in favor of opening Denver’s taxicab market to new entrants.  In June 1994, the governor of Colorado signed legislation officially opening up the market and paving the way for the aptly named Freedom Cabs to open for business.  IJ’s successful efforts promoting the plight of Denver cab entrepreneurs encouraged both Cincinnati and Indianapolis to open their cab markets to greater competition.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: Challenging Denver’s Taxicab Monopoly

Client Photo

Latest Release: Double Victories for Institute for Justice Taxi Markets Opened in Denver, Cincinnati (January 26, 1995)

Client Video - none available

Launch Release: Institute for Justice Files Test Case To Break Up Taxicab Monopoly, Protect Economic Liberty (January 28, 1993)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

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Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


January 28, 1993

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado



August 11, 1993: District Court judge upheld monopoly



June 2, 1994: Colorado governor signed legislation opening Denver’s taxi market to new entrants for the first time in nearly 50 years



Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Institute for Justice Spearheads First-Round Victory To Open Denver's Taxi Market (February 5, 1994)

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