DENVER—Today, an entrepreneur in Steamboat Springs filed a petition asking the Colorado Supreme Court to allow him to have his day in court in a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s transportation monopoly law. Abdallah Batayneh filed his lawsuit in March 2021, arguing that state law protects existing transportation companies from competition by giving them the power to veto new competition. That hurts customers, the public, and local businesses. As detailed in the lawsuit, it is also unconstitutional.
“This is just wrong. First the government barred Abdallah from competing with the insiders, and now it’s trying to keep him out of court,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) Attorney Will Aronin. “It’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers in the marketplace but that’s exactly what the Monopoly Rule does.”
Abdallah realized that his community was in dire need of better shuttle service to help visitors traverse the local mountain roads. So he started his own company to provide a better, cheaper option. He applied to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for permission to operate, but the two existing companies objected and vetoed his application. Ultimately, the PUC admitted that Abdallah was “operationally, managerially, and financially qualified” to operate his proposed shuttle company, but the Commission still denied him the right to do so. Worse, the PUC’s only reason was to protect the existing companies from competition.
In March 2023, the Colorado Court of Appeals dismissed Abdallah’s case. Now he is asking the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn that ruling so he can finally have his day in court.
“I just want to open my business and help my community,” said Abdallah. “I think the decision is wrong and I feel like I should get my day in court. I’m not giving up.”
“The government admits that Abdallah is qualified to run a safe, affordable shuttle,” said IJ Senior Attorney Justin Pearson. “But because the insiders said no, the government banned him from starting his business. That’s not just wrong, it’s unconstitutional.”