Lawsuit Filed After Peninsula Taxi Company Accused of Overcharging Disabled Customers

A taxi company on the Peninsula is accused of taking disabled customers for an unfair ride.

Advocates for the community said the company is charging people in wheel chairs more than three times more than people who are not. The accusations have sparked a federal civil rights lawsuit.

"Usually have to call ahead of time and set it up, give them location, how long it's going to be, then hopefully they have someone available," said Joseph Del Aguila, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Aguila said lining up a taxi ride on the Peninsula that can accommodate his wheelchair is a challenge. Serra Yellow Cab is one of the only companies providing the service.

But Del Aguila and the Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities, or CID, said Serra Yellow Cab is charging people in wheelchairs more than other customers for rides.

"We found out they are charging exorbitant rates for people who needed special access to taxis way above the normal rate," said David Denola with CID.

The alleged discrimination first surfaced in 2013.

Minutes from a public meeting show the owner of Serra Yellow Cab told critics the higher charges must have been a misunderstanding. When claims surfaced again in 2015, CID took some test rides.

"In 100 percent of the cases our passengers were overcharged," Denola said.

Del Aguila was part of the test. Receipts from a ride from a nearby mall to his home show a flat rate charge of $35. His partner, who is not in the wheel chair, took the same ride and paid $9.40.

"I think it's wrong because obviously it doesn't happen just to me, it happens to other people as well," Del Aguila said.

CID and Del Aguila have just filed a federal civil rights lawsuit demanding Serra Yellow Cab stop the overcharges and establish a monitoring system to make sure all customers are treated equally.

The cab company attorney said the owner is eager to meet with the plaintiffs.

"My clients is very upset and would like nothing more than to resolve this and renew his commitment to the disability community," attorney Lisa Nicol said.

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