In Julie Crowe v. City of Bloomington, the Liberty Justice Center represented Julie Crowe who was denied a license to start a vehicle-for-hire business based on a local law that allowed city officials to keep competitors out of the market to protect established businesses.
The article below by Rachel Wells appeared August 30, 2013, on Pantagraph.
BLOOMINGTON — The city’s rules for licensing vehicles-for-hire is unconstitutional and the city violated a shuttle owner’s rights when it denied her a chance to run her business, a McLean County judge has ruled.
Julie Crowe sued the city in February 2012 after she was denied a a “certificate of convenience” that would have allowed her to operate a 15-passenger van within the city.
Crowe argued her business would fill a niche by offering young women a service run by a female driver, making them feel safer. But the city manager’s office rejected her request, arguing the market was saturated and Crowe’s finances were too precarious.
Crowe unsuccessfully appealed to the City Council and later filed the lawsuit, alleging the city’s denial was arbitrary and arrived at without providing her due process.
Judge Rebecca Foley in a decision issued this week said the ordinance outlining the city’s regulations gives existing businesses “special privileges” that do nothing to ensure the health or safety of the public.
She said it lacks objective standards for determining when an additional vehicle-for-hire service is in the public interest and for aldermen to follow should an applicant appeal the city manager’s decision.
The city also violated Crowe’s right to due process by not allowing her to cross examine witnesses or offer rebuttal evidence, and by providing the City Council only “hand-picked” records from the initial public hearing, the ruling states.
The record provided to the court also lacked evidence of the number of licensed seats and of Crowe’s cash flow.
“We certainly think this will not only be beneficial in Bloomington, but should send a message across Illinois,” said Jacob Huebert, Crowe’s attorney, who is affiliated with the Liberty Justice Center, a law firm funded by the Illinois Policy Institute that bills itself as a free-market think tank. “You can’t deny an individual the right to earn a living to protect privileged businesses from competition.”
Read the article on Pantagraph.