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Yellow Cab Conducts Regular Background Checks? That's Not What It Said Under Oath.

Yellow Cab Conducts Regular Background Checks? That's Not What It Said Under Oath.
C. Troy Mathis

Just how strict is Yellow Cab about putting safe, responsible cab drivers on the road? That answer depends on which day you're talking to Yellow Cab.

On Tuesday, for instance, Yellow Cab's owner Jack Bewley gave a long speech at City Hall's special transportation meeting touting how safe and responsible Yellow Cab is. People might prefer connecting with limos through Uber, but it's not fair.

"By allowing limousines to compete directly with taxicab companies, the city places in jeopardy safe, quality service to the entire community," Bewley said. He promised that Yellow Cab drivers now have proper accident insurance (unlike before), visit poor areas as required by city law and, of course, that Yellow Cab's cars and drivers are both safe as can be.

"We also conduct regular inspections and driver background checks," he said.

Yellow Cab conducts driver background checks? That's encouraging. But wait. Here's Yellow Cab claims manager Max Romero, speaking under oath 10 months ago after a woman sued Yellow Cab: "They do periodic checks on drivers but I don't know how often or -- I just know they do some, you know, periodically they'll run checks on them."

In January 2011, Debra Epps had already been in three car crashes when, driving for Yellow Cab, she lost control of her of her car and caused a fourth one.

The vehicle flipped, injuring a customer inside named Diana Lambert. This was before Yellow Cab fixed its insurance policy. Lambert had hefty medical bills and Yellow Cab didn't want to pay, so she sued.

When Yellow Cab, also known by its sad corporate name, Irving Holdings, was put on the witness stand, suddenly the driver-background-check program didn't sound so impressive anymore. It was Lambert's attorney who discovered the cab driver's three prior car crashes from 2007 until 2010, among numerous other traffic violations.

It turned out, Epps was not one of the cab drivers who had been "periodically" subject to Yellow Cab's spontaneous background check program.

"It doesn't look like it," Romero testified. No, it sure doesn't.

In fact, because all of the Irving Holdings drivers are independent contractors, it's not clear how much Yellow Cab is able to monitor them.

"Does Irving Holdings drug test after car wrecks?" Mark Frenkel, Lambert's attorney, asked Romero, court records from the deposition show.

"No, sir."

"Does Yellow Cab pull her certified driving history or any driving history?"

"No."

Later, it became increasingly clear that driving skills are kind of a side issue to being a cabbie in Dallas.

"Is there anyone at Irving Holdings that evaluates the skill of a driver?" Frenkel grilled the claims manager.

"No."

"And in what situation would somebody be terminated for a history of at-fault accidents?"

"Two in one year. If they get two in one year, the third one, I guess, would be."

"How about speeding tickets?"

"No."

Romero explained that cab drivers can get as many speeding tickets as they want without losing their privileges.

Lambert's case is still in court, with another hearing scheduled for February. Yellow Cab officials and Yellow Cab attorney Jon Barr haven't returned messages.

Meanwhile, Debra Epps continued to pick up passengers for Yellow Cab after the crash. She lasted just over a year before getting in a new car crash while on the job, on March 6, 2012. "I hit a pedestrian," Epps explained in her testimony. She finally quit the business after that.


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