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"Bus Firm Takes Car Sharers to Court":

The Guardian (UK) reports:

[A] group of French cleaning ladies who organised a car-sharing scheme to get to work are being taken to court by a coach company which accuses them of "an act of unfair and parasitical competition".

The women, who live in Moselle and work five days a week at EU offices in Luxembourg, are being taken to court by Transports Schiocchet Excursions, which runs a service along the route. It wants the women to be fined and their cars confiscated.

Two years ago a business tribunal threw out the company's case. It is now pursuing the women in a higher court . . . ..

"Using our cars is quicker and at least twice as cheap. And on the bus we didn't have the right to eat or even to speak," said Martine Bourguignon. Odette Friedmann added: "In the evening instead of coming to get us at 9.30pm the bus would arrive at 10.30pm. If you made any comment to the driver you'd get a mouthful of abuse."

TSE is also suing the women's employer, Onet-Luxembourg. . . .

Thanks to John Chalmers for the pointer.

JohnAnnArbor:
WHAT????

So if I put solar panels on my roof and generate my own power, the power company could sue me and confiscate my solar panels, using the bus company's "logic."

Talk about out-of-control socialism: You must use the collective solution. Private initiative is evil....
7.13.2005 6:42pm
Eric N. Kniffin:
We have similar laws here in the good old US of A. Here's a link to a good article I read recently from a former professor of mine, Nicole Garnett.

Title:

The Road from Welfare to Work: Informal Transportation and the Urban Poor

ABSTRACT:

Individuals struggling to move from welfare to work face numerous obstacles. This Article addresses one of those obstacles: lack of transportation. Without reliable transportation, many welfare recipients are unable to find and maintain jobs located out of the reach of traditional forms of public transportation. Professor Garnett argues that lawmakers should remove restrictions on informal van or jitney services, allowing entrepreneurs to provide low-cost transportation to their communities. This reform would not only help people get to work, but it could also provide jobs for low-income people.
7.13.2005 7:12pm
Tony (mail):
I have never understood the restrictions on private transportation services - especially taxi medallions, which in many cities are fantastically difficult to get. Safety regulations, fine. Minimum rates to control competition, I'm even fine with that. But restricting the supply artificially? What on earth for?

What's happening here is not so different from the transportation cabals in the US, where numerous companies fight to maintain monopoly control. It's only marginally more ridiculous.
7.13.2005 7:49pm
Scott Moss (mail) (www):
Very timely -- I'm compiling a law &econ syllabus and looking for a case making the point that competition is not a tort; anyone have anything for me???
7.13.2005 7:58pm
erp (mail):
Obviously the solution is for the cleaning women to stay home and collect welfare. Then it won't matter what time the bus goes to pick them up. In fact, since they're not there, the bus driver can stay home and collect welfare too, and since their offices are filthy pig styies, the EU officials can stay home and collect welfare too.

The ladies won't need their cars and the buses won't be needed so pollution will lessen and the globe will warm up a bit slower. This works on so many levels.

And they said socialism wouldn't work.
7.13.2005 8:19pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
So basically they're being sued for car pooling? I don't see that the coach company has a case.
7.13.2005 9:12pm
Anon7 (mail):
The article is short on details, but my guess is that this "group" of cleaning ladies is more like a few dozen strong, and that they've organized what amounts to a taxi service for fellow cleaning ladies, one where individuals pay $X per month to be ferried back and forth to work. The bus company wouldn't bother to sue for anything less because the lawsuit would cost more than the potential verdict.
7.14.2005 12:09am
Don (mail):
Everything old is new again. Bastiat for today.
7.14.2005 8:30am
Abe Delnore (mail):
This just seems to show Americans have no monopoly on the frivolous tort.
7.14.2005 11:44am
Eric (mail):
Recently one sees more and more variants of a "right of make a profit" (rarely in such words) argument running around. Perhaps it is some fallout from a combination of the privitization of government services and various government acts of economic protectionism that leaves businesses with such a sense of entitlement.

Though it's in the legislative context, there have been similar arguments raised by businesses regarding municipal wi-fi plans.

Or looking at the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, where a 56-year copyright term did not suffice, because there was still more profit to be extracted on various works of music and film. Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 n.14 (2003) cites the statement of Sen. Feinstein where she actually mentions "the right to profit" not being satisifed by the law at that time (though admittedly she was not talking about a corporate right to profit in that quote).
7.14.2005 3:12pm
M_Northstar (mail):
To Anon7: The group of cleaning ladies is 5 persons strong, and it's a straight carpool, not an informal taxi. The case has already been thrown out of the court once, but is now being pursued at a higher instance. According to the French magazine Liberation (courtesy of Google's translation service), the original amount of damages was 5000 Euro per person, but in the current more advanced case, the ladies are being sued for 2 million Euros.
7.15.2005 6:16am
Omri (mail):
Car pooling? Isn't that how Martin Luther King's troubles with the law began?
7.15.2005 6:28pm