New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit Friday to block Lyft, the on-demand ride-sharing app, from operating in New York.
The suit was filed hours before San Francisco-based Lyft planned to enter the New York City market. The suit claims the company operates as a traditional for-hire livery service using mobile technology, not a peer-to-peer transportation platform as claimed.
The company operates “in open defiance” of state and local licensing and insurance laws, according to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. It alleges that Lyft, best known by the fuzzy pink mustaches on the front of its vehicles, began operating in Buffalo and Rochester in April without authorization and currently violates various laws.
Schneiderman requested a court order to stop Lyft’s service until the suit is resolved, plus a civil penalty and loss of profits.
The company’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.
On Thursday, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission posted a notice that, in light of Lyft’s announced plans to offer free rides in Brooklyn and Queens starting Friday evening, its so-called ride-share service had not complied with the commission’s safety requirements and other licensing criteria “to verify the integrity and qualifications of the drivers or vehicles used.”
Lyft spokeswoman Erin Simpson told the Daily News that the company was “in a legal process with local regulators” on Friday “and will proceed accordingly.” The company seeks to work collaboratively with officials and has in cities and states across the country, she said.
In April, Lyft announced it was launching its service in 24 new locations, nearly doubling the startup’s U.S. markets.