Port Of Seattle Being Sued By Second Taxi Company

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The Port of Seattle is apparently being sued by a second taxi company – this time by Rainier Dispatch (aka Farwest Taxi) for ignoring collusion.

This is the latest twist in an ongoing legal war against the embattled Port of Seattle, and Rainier/Farwest is now the second taxi company to claim the Port’s process for selecting a new on-demand airport taxi contract is illegal (as we’ve covered previously, the first was STITA).

According to a press release we received Tuesday, Feb. 16th:

Farwest Taxi filed a lawsuit last Friday (Feb. 12th) in King County Superior Court against the Port of Seattle and Yellow Cab, its former partner in a joint bid for the airport contract. The lawsuit claims the Port’s proposal process was illegal. The lawsuit says lobbyist Chris Van Dyk drafted the bid for Yellow Cab, the winning bidder for the on-demand airport contract. Then he turned around and used that insider information to draft a less competitive proposal by the No. 2 bidder, a joint venture between Yellow, Farwest and Orange Cab.

“The Port of Seattle and Yellow Cab should be ashamed of this whole process,” said Gurcharan Dhaliwal, president of Rainier Dispatch. “Yellow Cab and Chris Van Dyk took our bid information and used it to make sure they came out on top, and the Port looked the other way.”

According to the lawsuit, Van Dyk knew trade secrets of the two other bidders in the joint venture, and used that proprietary intellectual property to ensure Yellow Cab submitted the top bid. In addition, in its legal filing, Farwest says it explicitly told Yellow representatives that it did not want anyone who drafted the joint venture proposal to also draft a proposal for any of the three individual members. They said they were assured that would be the case.

The Port’s own RFP states: “One or all responses will be rejected if there is reason for believing that collusion exists among Proposers, and no participant in such collusion will be considered in future proposals for concessions at the Airport.” [RFP, 13.4.1, p. 6]

This latest lawsuit follows on the heels of a well-publicized lawsuit filed by the Seattle-Tacoma International Taxi Association (STITA) on Jan. 29. STITA, which has the exclusive taxicab contract at Sea-Tac Airport through August 2010.

Like STITA’s lawsuit, Farwest Taxi’s lawsuit requests a court order barring the Port of Seattle from officially signing a contract with Yellow Cab. It also seeks an order disqualifying Yellow Cab from future re-bids of the airport contract.

STITA members were encouraged that another taxi company – even one of their competitors – saw the same foul play and are now suing the Port and Yellow Cab.

“Here is yet another reason for the Port to hold off on signing the illegal contract with Yellow Cab,” said Jesse Buttar, a spokesperson for STITA. “We hope the Port takes the opportunity to go back and review this whole process. This illegal process directly affects the 450 families who make up STITA. We just want a fair shot at the airport contract.”

A copy of this lawsuit can be downloaded here (as a PDF file).

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