Cab’s case over space dismissed
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY – A district judge has dismissed a taxi company’s lawsuit against Eagle County over a lost bid for counter space at the airport.
The July 31 decision was a summary judgment that dismissed Vail Valley Taxi’s case on the grounds that there were not sufficient facts for a trial, said county attorney Bryan Treu.
District court judge R. Thomas Moorhead’s decision ended a dispute that started in December 2005.
Vail Valley Taxi, a Minturn-based company, had submitted a bid against two other companies for three-year leases on limited counter space in the airport terminal. Vail Valley Taxi submitted the lowest bid by more than $10,000, and two other companies, Hy-Mountain Transportation and Colorado Mountain Express, got the counter space.
Vail Valley Taxi co-owners Daniel Booz and Cheryl Emmeluth then filed the lawsuit, claiming they were the only company that met the bid requirements. The company claimed they lost the bid because county authorities simply did not like Booz.
According to the judgment, the company’s claim that they were the only bidder who could take passengers statewide as specified by their Colorado Public Utilities Commission license, was not a grounds for a lawsuit. The other companies could only operate within a certain range of the airport.
“We’re just trying to provide service to the public. We can go from Eagle to Denver, to Summit and Grand Junction,” said Emmeluth. The other taxi company that won the bid can only operate within a 50-mile radius, she said.
But the judgment said that even Vail Valley Taxi cannot operate throughout the whole state, referring to a 10-mile radius of an Aspen intersection that the company cannot work in.
The judge ruled that they were simply out-bid and that the county acted fairly in the bid process. Moorhead also ruled that the company could not back up the claim that the lost bid was due to any personal animosity against Booz.
“You have to convince the judge you have a case, and they didn’t,” Treu said.
But Booz said he does not buy it.
“Apparently (the county authorities) don’t like my candid nature. I speak the truth and they can’t handle the truth,” he said. He said his company has been forced to operate from phone kiosks in the terminal instead of personally from behind a counter.
Emmeluth said the company has had an excellent record of service for the almost 20 years it has been in business. She attributes the judgment to the fact that “the judges in this county and administrators are just too familiar with each other.”
They are considering an appeal, she said.
The three-year counter space leases are up this year, and the county will decide within the next couple months whether to simply extend the existing contracts or go through the bid process again, said Treu.
Booz said if there is a bid again, he will be in line to win it.
The company is also involved in an ongoing appeal over a 1-year suspension from the airport terminal in 2006. Vail Valley Taxi was banned from having any of its employees actually inside the terminal because they had violated rules specifying the number of drivers a company could have inside the terminal at a time.
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.