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Armenian American cabbies win court round in Santa Monica taxi franchising dispute

December 22, 2010 |  8:09 pm

A judge Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order barring Santa Monica from instituting a new taxi franchising system that a group of Armenian American cabdrivers charged discriminated against them.

Judge Robert H. O'Brien gave attorneys until Jan. 7 to show why the preliminary injunction shouldn't be granted in the case filed by the Taxi Drivers Assn. of Santa Monica, which sued the city Tuesday in civil court in downtown Los Angeles.

The association represents five Armenian American-owned or operated cab companies -- and 300 Armenian American cabbies -- who sued Santa Monica after they were all denied franchise licenses with the city.

"If this TRO had not been issued, approximately 300 Armenian American cabdrivers operating within the city of Santa Monica would have their licenses to operate their cabs revoked," said Tamar Arminak of the Geragos & Geragos law firm, which represents the cabbies.

Santa Monica officials could not be reached for comment.

The controversy began in June when the city, after reviewing franchise applications, chose five of 13 cab companies, none of which were Armenian owned or operated.

About 100 cabbies showed up in court Tuesday. Arminak said they were all worried they would be jobless come the new year.

"They are relieved they can continue supporting their families as a result of the court ruling," Arminak said.

-- Andrew Blankstein