Uber, Nevada taxi legal battle gets complicated
November 17, 2014
LAS VEGAS — A legal battle between Nevada's highly regulated taxi industry and ride-sharing company Uber has gotten complicated as two state judges laid claim to hearing the same case.
In court Monday, Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon blamed the overlap on the state attorney general's office.
"I think you're jumping around to different jurisdictions trying to get a ruling," he said.
The attorney general represents the Nevada Taxicab Authority and Nevada Transportation Authority. The state regulators want to put an end to Uber, which allows people using a smartphone app to hail a ride from one of its drivers in the driver's personal car.
Uber attorneys, in filings Monday with Nevada's Supreme Court, also accused the state of shopping for a courtroom.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Kimberly Arguello told Herndon her office may have handled the filings "inartfully."
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Hours after Uber launched its ride-sharing services Oct. 24 in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City, the state hastily sought orders to halt the company's business in all three cities.
Herndon said his office got a call from the attorney general's office the next business day asking if the judge had granted the request to temporarily stop Uber in the Las Vegas area. He hadn't and said he wouldn't until he held a hearing.
Not long after, the attorney general filed its complaint and motions in Washoe County, Herndon said.
Herndon later denied the state's request to halt Uber's business.
That decision came days after a Carson City judge signed a temporary order. The judge there eventually deferred to Herndon to take the lead on the case in Clark County.
Washoe County District Court in Reno, which also issued a temporary order for the business to stop, continued to hear arguments in the case as recently as Friday. In that case, Judge Scott Freeman said his court should take the lead because his was the first to receive the state's complaint.
Herndon said it's not that he and others are trying to rid themselves of the matter. "We don't really care who hears the case."
It comes down to timing, he said.
Herndon said the state's case was first filed with his courtroom, as he listed the chronology of events down to the minute. Freeman has said his court got it first.
In the meantime, Uber on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to stop the Washoe County case. The company expects a decision in several days.
The attorney general's office sought to consolidate the case in Freeman's courtroom and withdraw its request to halt Uber's operations in Clark County. But Herndon said Monday he would wait to act until the high court rules.
The court confusion hasn't stopped regulators from citing Uber drivers and impounding their cars.
And it hasn't stopped Uber.
The company has continued to offer rides in Nevada since it launched late last month.