An organization of taxicab operators in Seattle and King County filed a lawsuit against Uber on Monday, saying
the for-hire vehicle service violates multiple laws and regulations, which harms taxicab drivers and the public.

The lawsuit, filed by the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association in King County Superior Court, says Uber is involved in “unlawful and deceptive business practices” because, unlike the taxi drivers, Uber’s drivers don’t comply with legal requirements set by Seattle, King County and Washington state for the personal transportation industry, according to court documents.

Taxicab drivers are required to complete a training course, pass a criminal-background check and participate in “ride-alongs” with qualified drivers.

The lawsuit alleges Uber drivers pick up the same passengers as the operators association’s members but do not meet the same requirements.

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“If the Operators Association’s members were to provide taxicab services without satisfying the City of Seattle and King County requirements, they would be subject to up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also states that Uber threatens the livelihood of Seattle and King County taxi drivers.

In a statement, Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger said ride service remains “focused on connecting people with the safest and most reliable transportation options in Seattle,” and emphasized the small-business jobs it creates.

“It is unfortunate that the taxi industry is not similarly focused on what really matters: safety of riders and opportunity for drivers,” Steger said in the statement.

The lawsuit seeks damages in the amount equal to the fares and tips lost because of Uber as well as “exemplary” damages equal to three times the amount of the lost fares and tips and attorneys’ fees.

Last week, the Seattle City Council approved regulations to limit the number of drivers for uberX, Uber’s lower-cost ride service, and other ride-service companies, including Lyft and Sidecar.

Each company is limited to 150 drivers on the road at any given time.

The lawsuit does not mention other vehicle services.

Uber operates in 36 countries, according to its website. It launched in Seattle in 2011.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com