Rogue Cabbie Devises the Charitable Taxi Service Defense

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October 25, 2011; Source: The Aspen Times | 75-year old Phil Sullivan has been caught and fined a couple of times for offering cab rides to potential customers. His crime? He’s not a registered cab driver in Pitkin County, Colorado. His latest faux pas as a cab driver was to offer a ride to an undercover Public Utilities Commission investigator. Sullivan has his supporters, including New Orleans attorney Rob Couhig, an occasional Aspen vacationer, who heard about the gentleman’s plight and showed up to offer pro bono legal representation. Couhig’s novel suggestion to modify a 2010 court order that barred Sullivan from functioning as an ersatz professional cab driver was to describe Sullivan’s operations as something of a charity. Couhig says that the Colorado state legislature has a policy “to promote low-cost transportation as a way of helping charities and people in need.” If the judge agrees, Sullivan will be able to go back to fare-charging cab driving so long as he is driving (and charging passengers) for a charitable purpose. It’s all a bit unsettling for Sullivan. “I still can’t get over the fact that the court says I can’t give people a free ride home,” Sullivan said. “But about the nonprofit … I will think about it.”  Rick Cohen