Cover Story: A royal mess?

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Some say it's a royal mess.  King Cab is suing the Queen City.  Charlotte's largest taxi company is making a claim that the city is trying to kill its business.

City leaders denied King Cab a lucrative contract to work the airport possibly because of the owners' checkered past.

King versus Queen and it could be going to court

It started out as a way to clean up the image of the cabbies at the Airport - putting a best foot forward with the DNC coming next year.  Now it looks like it's going to wind up in front of a judge and could cost the city in legal fees.

"We did everything that the city said."

Monroe Whitesides is the attorney for King Cab, Charlotte's largest taxi cab company.  You see them everywhere - 150 cars on the road.

Six months ago, they were selected along with two other cab companies to have the exclusive rights to supply taxis at the Airport.

Once it came to light that two of King Cab's owners had served time in federal prison for soliciting fake driver's licenses and for fraud, which city officials apparently didn't know when they were recommended, there was public pressure put on city leaders to yank the deal the city had already inked with King Cab.

"We went through the entire process and signed the contracts only to be told four days before the hearing, "Well you're not longer wanted," said Whitesides.  "That's like drafting Cam Newton and saying we're not going to let you play because you have too many teeth."

The Panthers number one pick does have a million dollar smile.

King Cab, Taxi USA (which operates as Yellow Cab) and Crown Cab were the three companies initially selected.

But two months ago, concerned about awarding an airport contract to a cab company where the owners had faked ID's and with so much concern about security, City Manager Curt Walton recommended to city council that King Cab be replaced with City Cab.

Attorney Monroe Whitesides says City Cab says doesn't own any new cabs, which is a requirement to get the airport contract.

King Cab is suing the city and Airport Director Jerry Orr asking a judge to intervene immediately, throw out the selection process and start over.

"We're the best company to have an airport contract and we should have a fair shake at it. and it's worth going to court and having a judge intervene to determine the facts," said Whitesides.

Right now the contracts haven't been finalized with any of the three cab companies.  It needs to have City Council approval before it's official.  A vote is scheduled a month from now.

The deal is worth $600,000 to King Cab.

The basis for King Cab's lawsuit is that the city put out a list of rules to follow and then didn't follow them, therefore according to the plaintiff it's an unconstitutional designation of authority.

The suit was just filed with the court Thursday.  An assistant city attorney told us they have not seen it so they couldn't comment.

King Cab is suing for court costs and attorneys fees.

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