Judge Says Lyft Must Stop in St. Louis; Lyft Calls Restraining Order "Bullying and Intimidation"

Lyft says it's staying on in St. Louis, even after a circuit court judge granted a temporary restraining order to stop the company from operating here.

"Lyft is now live and providing safe rides and economic opportunity in 34 cities across the United States," Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen said after receiving a copy of the injunction. St. Louis and Salt Lake City were the 33rd and 34th cities to join Lyft's list. "St. Louis deserves the same modern transportation choices of other large leading U.S. cities."

See also: Taxi Driver: Lyft is as Bad for St. Louis Workers as Walmart, Fast Food

Lyft decried the restraining order as an intimidation tactic from the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC), which is citing Lyft drivers for operating in St. Louis without proper licenses. Thelen says Lyft didn't know about the restraining order until Judge David Dowd granted it.

"We never received notice or an opportunity to appear in court to defend ourselves, drivers and passengers prior to the injunction being issued," Thelen says. "This violates our due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. We will defend our rights and the rights of drivers and passengers in court. We will not let bullying and intimidation by the taxi commission keep the people of St Louis from exploring this new model of community-powered, safe rides and economic opportunity."

UPDATE, 11:15 a.m.: St. Louis Metropolitan Police issued summons to two Lyft drivers for driving an unregistered car and for driving without a license on Saturday.

The drivers are Melanie Darmsteadter of St. Louis and Nicholas Gordon of O'Fallon. End of update.

Update, 4/24: Police say that despite the taxi commission's claims, no Lyft drivers have been arrested. End of update.

click to enlarge The first Lyft driver is cited in St. Louis. - Lindsay Toler
Lindsay Toler
The first Lyft driver is cited in St. Louis.

The taxi commission sent Lyft a cease-and-desist letter before Friday's launch.

"They ignored that," says Charles Billings, a lawyer for the taxicab commission, "and decided to launch vehicles for hire that the MTC believes are in violation of Missouri law."

See also: Lyft Driver Cited By St. Louis Police Says He Wasn't Doing Anything Wrong

The judge will hear arguments from Lyft and the taxi commission on May 6. If Lyft violates the judge's order to stop business in St. Louis, the judge can hold the company in contempt of court.

The fight over Lyft in St. Louis all comes down to safety. Lyft says its standards are thoroughly strict, but the taxi commission says one of Lyft's drivers has already been arrested on a felony warrant.

Read more about how Lyft's safety standards stack up on page two.