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Entrepreneur Barred from Competing with Colorado’s Transportation Monopoly Vows to Appeal Case’s Dismissal

Lawsuit argues that government allowing existing transportation companies to veto new competitors violates the Colorado Constitution.

DENVER—Today, Abdallah Batayneh, an entrepreneur in Steamboat Springs, announced that he will appeal the dismissal of his lawsuit challenging Colorado’s transportation monopoly law. The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2021, argues that the 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.

“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 Institute for Justice, which represents Abdallah and his shuttle company, will be appealing the dismissal.

“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.”

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading public interest law firm dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to earn a living and to restoring constitutional limits on the power of government.

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