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Uber fight with taxi regulators headed to court Wednesday

A hearing has been scheduled Wednesday morning before Clark County District Court Judge Douglas Herndon to determine whether the controversial ride-sharing company Uber can continue to operate in Southern Nevada.

Regulatory enforcement officers with the Nevada Transportation Authority and the Nevada Taxicab Authority — some wearing ski masks to protect their identities because of their work as undercover officers — have continued to cite Uber drivers and impound their vehicles. San Francisco-based Uber vows to stand by their contracted drivers and say they will continue to offer legal support and financial resources for drivers whose cars have been confiscated.

A spokeswoman for the company said Uber has rented cars for drivers who have had their vehicles impounded.

Uber launched operations in Nevada on Friday, but immediately found itself in the crosshairs of Nevada regulators who said they would treat Uber as it would any other illegal operator.

Uber views itself as a technology platform and not a transportation company.

But on Friday afternoon, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto sought a temporary restraining order in Carson City on behalf of the Transportation Authority to block Uber from operating. Las Vegas attorney Don Campbell, who is representing Uber, said he was not notified of the filing and challenged whether the order was valid in Clark County.

Herndon refused to sign a similar order in Clark County setting the stage for Wednesday’s hearing.

Over the weekend, Uber officials said 11 drivers, nine of them in Clark County, were cited for violating transportation statutes and had their vehicles impounded. In one case, a driver attempted to video the confiscation, which prompted officers to put on ski masks.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Industry, which oversees the Transportation Authority and the Taxicab Authority, did not respond to queries about whether using masks to conceal the identity of officers is standard operating procedure.

Eva Behrend, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the company would continue to stand behind its drivers, who face fines of up to $10,000 per incident for each state violation.

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

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