Little Rock, Ark.—Today, Arkansas taxi driver Ken Leininger won the final battle of his nearly one-year legal fight to expand his taxi company into Little Rock when the city decided not to appeal Ken’s December 2016 circuit-court victory. This means that Circuit Judge David Laser’s January 25, 2017 order declaring Little Rock’s taxi regulations unconstitutional stands as the final decision in the case. Ken is already in the process of expanding his taxi company, Ken’s Cab, to take advantage of the legal ruling.
“Ken is pursuing his American Dream, and simply wanted the chance to compete. He should have been applauded—not blocked by government officials who were more interested in protecting the only taxi company in town than putting more taxis on the street,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Justin Pearson, who argued the case for Ken. “Now, Little Rock is finally getting out of Ken’s way, which means he, and transportation entrepreneurs like him, will be free to expand his business and create more jobs.”
“I started this fight in 2015, when I tried to apply for taxi permits and was turned down by the city,” said Ken Leininger, owner of Ken’s Cabs. “But instead of backing down, I joined with the Institute for Justice to take the taxi monopoly head-on. I was thrilled when we won in December, and I am thrilled that the city will not appeal the decision. I have already started the plans to expand Ken’s Cabs and look forward to opening the new office soon.”
Under the old law, Little Rock prohibited any new taxi companies from competing with its one existing company, Greater Little Rock Transportation Services, LLC (Yellow Cab), by allowing new taxi permits to be issued only if the “public convenience and necessity” left no other choice and if doing so would not harm the existing permit holder. In other words, a newcomer to the Little Rock taxi market would need to prove he would not take any business away from the existing taxi monopoly—an impossible task. That provision had prevented Ken from offering his services in Little Rock, even though the city’s own Fleet Services Department determined in 2015 that Ken was otherwise able to meet all of the city’s health-and-safety requirements. In March 2016, Ken teamed up with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit against the city of Little Rock.
“It is not government’s job to protect incumbent businesses from competition,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Allison Daniel, who was co-counsel on the case. “Little Rock’s outdated taxi regulations created a monopoly that hurt consumers and entrepreneurs alike, and—with a little help from the Arkansas Constitution—it now joins a parade of cities nationwide that have abandoned protectionist restrictions like these. ”