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Reno limousine company, Calif. company file suit against NTA

A small Reno limousine company and a California-based moving company have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas challenging the Nevada Transportation Authority’s system of approving transportation operating certificates.

If successful, the challenge could change the way Nevada regulators approve certificates for taxi operations and tow trucks as well as limousine and moving-and-storage companies.

The lawsuit names Transportation Authority Chairman Andrew MacKay, Commissioners George Assad and Keith Sakelhide, Deputy Commissioner Marilyn Skibinski and five authority administrators.

The Sacramento, Calif.-based Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest firm focused on private property rights and limited government, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Reno Tahoe Limousine owners Ron and Danell Perlman and Sacramento-based Affordable Moving and Storage owner Steven Saxon and his son Patrick Saxon.

Under Nevada transportation regulations, certificates of convenience and public necessity can be issued by the authority board if it “will not unreasonably and adversely affect other carriers operating in the territory for which the certificate or modification is sought.”

The regulation’s critics say the standard is protectionist and gives established transportation carriers an edge that keeps competitors from entering or expanding in the market.

Anastasia Boden, one of the Pacific Legal Foundation’s lead attorneys, said the regulation violates an individual’s due process rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

“We’re not disputing the Transportation Authority’s ability to protect consumers and regulating companies for safety purposes,” Boden said in an interview. “We’re challenging this because it has absolutely nothing to do with safety and everything to do with a competitor’s veto.”

Boden explained that allowing certificated carriers to intervene on cases involving a new or expanding business is unfair to the applicant.

Calls for comment from attorneys for the Transportation Authority were not returned on Thursday.

A similar process is used by the Nevada Taxicab Authority, but that agency, which regulates taxis operating in Clark County, wasn’t named in the complaint.

Boden said when her foundation filed a similar complaint against regulators in Kentucky, the regulations of several agencies were thrown out when the judge ruled in the foundation’s favor.

The Perlmans, in 2006, obtained permission to operate Reno Tahoe Limousine on a restricted certificate that limited the company to the use of seven vehicles. When they attempted to expand the company by modifying its certificate, it was denied after a competitor objected in an intervention.

Similarly, the Saxons started to operate a sole proprietorship in California in 2002 and wanted to expand its territory to Nevada but couldn’t because of the cost of battling established competitors.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, seeks a declaratory judgment that would enable the companies to operate “without being subject to the arbitrary and discriminatory certificate of public convenience and necessity scheme.”

Las Vegas-based Rainey Legal Group is assisting the Pacific Legal Foundation is being in the case.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

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