CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A North Carolina Business Court judge has dismissed two lawsuits brought against the city of Charlotte by two taxi companies alleging the city's airport taxicab contract was corrupted by a pay-to-play scheme, involving former mayor Patrick Cannon.
According to the city, the cases were dismissed Thursday by Judge Louis A. Bledsoe, III.
The lawsuits, filed by the owners of Universal Cab and Diamond Cab, said there was a long-running conspiracy to trade the lucrative airport contracts for campaign donations to former Mayor Patrick Cannon and the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, a lobbying group.
Last month, local leaders called for the case to be dismissed.
The dispute stems from a 2011 decision from the Charlotte City Council which reduced the number of taxi companies that were allowed to pick up passengers at the airport from 12 to three. Universal and Diamond were not included.
Universal Cab owner Mohamed Moustafa filed the suit last year, after Cannon was arrested on federal corruption charges for taking bribes from undercover FBI agents.
Moustafa's lawsuit named Cannon, former Aviation Director Jerry Orr, former Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority chief Tim Newman and Mohammad Jenatian of the tourism lobbying group. It also names the city of Charlotte and the three winning cab companies at the airport.
Diamond Cab's lawsuit named many of the same defendants.
“The decision to dismiss these two law suits is a victory for the City of Charlotte,” stated Robert Hagemann, City Attorney. “It has been our contention all along that the City Council's decision was lawful and appropriate."
In dismissing the lawsuits, Judge Bledsoe concluded, among other things, that the plaintiffs failed to establish a causal connection between the alleged improper conduct and plaintiffs' injuries.
Specifically, the Court noted that whatever harm the plaintiffs suffered was the result of the City Council's decision to award the contracts to other companies and other than Cannon, the plaintiffs had not alleged any wrongdoing by members of the City Council.