Circuit Court Judge W. Neil Thomas upheld a January decision from the city of Chattanooga Transportation Board to revoke the license of All-American Taxi.
Although officials with the taxi company can appeal the decision, the ruling means the business can't legally operate for the time being.
"He can't operate at all; his business is shut down," Chattanooga police officer Chuck Topping, who is also the inspector for the Transportation Board, said Tuesday.
Thomas dismissed a petition appealing the board's decision to revoke the license because All-American Taxi was charging rates in excess of those approved by city leaders, according to court documents.
The dismissal of the petition, which Thomas signed Sept. 20, means the board's decision stands.
Owner of All-American Taxi Randy Van Hooser couldn't be reached Tuesday.
A person who answered a company phone and took a message for Hooser was unaware of the judge's recent decision.
Hooser's lawyer couldn't be reached Tuesday.
City Attorney Wade Hinton said that there is a 30-day window for appealing this decision.
In January, the Transportation Board voted to revoke All-American Taxi's license because of two issues—overcharging and allowing drivers to operate without the appropriate permits, according to court documents.
City ordinance mandates that taxi fares not be greater than $2 to start the meter, 20 cents for every 10th of a mile, 20 cents for a minute of wait time and $5 for each additional passenger.
According to court documents, Van Hooser was charging $2.50 to start the meter and 25 cents for each 10th of a mile.
But Van Hooser and his lawyer, James Hurst, said the situation was a misunderstanding because the board had previously approved a temporary rate increase because of high gas prices.
At the January meeting, Van Hooser told the Transportation Board that times had been difficult for his employees, some of who had worked for the company for eight years without a raise.
Drivers make their money off the meter, and the temporary increase was to benefit his drivers, he said.
The increase was for 60 days, but to be a permanent change, the City Council would have had to approve it.
The council never did approve that change, so the rates went back to what they had been. But Van Hooser said he wasn't aware of that.
"I apologize for doing this, not understanding that it was only a 60-day thing and it did not get approved by the City Council," he told the Transportation Board in January, according to court documents. "I never intended to overcharge anybody."
The board voted at that time to revoke the company's license, but they also took up the issue of allowing people to drive without the needed permits, according to documents.
After discussing that issue, the board also voted to revoke based on that violation.
Those violations would have shut down the business, but Van Hooser appealed and was allowed to keep operating until the judge made a decision about the appeal.
In the decision about the appeal, Thomas wrote, "It is clear that in deciding this case, the court may not substitute its judgment for that of the board."
Topping said that if Van Hooser continues to operate, drivers will be subject to citations of $50 plus court costs. If drivers continued to ignore citations, there could be further consequences.
"He can operate outside the city limits," Topping also said.
Hinton said that, because the 30-day window for appeal is still open, he can't comment further or speculate about enforcement of the revocation.
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