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Merheb v. Jerman

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

June 21, 2017

RACHED MERHEB, d/b/a/ STAR LIMO, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN JERMAN, Director, Transportation Division, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, in his individual capacity Defendant.

          Santiago E. Juarez Law Office of Santiago E. Juarez Attorney for Plaintiff

          Quentin Smith Sheehan & Sheehan, P.A. Attorney for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Ryan Jerman's Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint [Doc. 22]. Plaintiff Rached Merheb timely filed a Response [Doc. 28] and Defendant replied [Doc. 29]. The Court, having considered the Motion, briefs, relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, finds that the Motion is well taken and will be granted.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Rached Merheb, d/b/a Star Limo, LLC (“Plaintiff”) operates a commercial limousine service in the State of New Mexico. [Doc. 21 ¶ 9]. New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (“PRC”) regulations require operators of luxury vehicle services to obtain a “certification, ” while operators of van services must obtain a “warrant.” [Doc. 21 ¶ 12]. Plaintiff began the process of obtaining his certification to operate a luxury vehicle service in 2003, and was ultimately granted a certification twenty-one months later. [Doc. 21 ¶¶ 10-11]. The certification process was apparently arduous; Plaintiff indicates that he had to apply three times, and that he incurred a loss of income during this period as well as the cost of attorneys' fees. [Doc. 21 ¶ 10].

         With respect to Count I, Plaintiff alleges that the PRC allowed other car services to operate “unlawfully.”[1] According to Plaintiff, in 2002, Fantasy Limo operated luxury vehicles with a warrant, rather than a certification. [Doc. 21 ¶ 13]. Additionally, Plaintiff asserts that, prior to 2002, Premiere Limo operated without a warrant or a certification. When Premiere Limo was notified of their noncompliance, PRC helped them complete the required paperwork and the company obtained proper licensure within one year. [Doc. 21 ¶ 14]. Plaintiff also alleges that both Cary Limo and Luxury Limo operated luxury vehicles with a warrant, rather than a certification. [Doc. 21 ¶ 15].

         In April 2009, Plaintiff emailed the PRC regarding another car service, Santa Fe Valet, which Plaintiff alleges was “operating illegally.” [Doc. 21 ¶ 21]. Plaintiff asserts that Santa Fe Valet was operating a luxury service under warrant, rather than a certificate.

         Plaintiff further alleges that “The Garcia Family” has been operating two separate businesses to unlawfully reduce competition. [Doc. 21 ¶ 22]. Plaintiff asserts that other companies, including Premier Limo, have been illegally offering coupons and promotions to limit competition. [Doc. 21 ¶ 23].

         Finally, Plaintiff alleges, “[a]t times relevant to this complaint, World Travel Management, LLC . . . applied for a warrant in regards to business operation of van services but was also operating luxury vehicles illegally.” [Doc. 21 ¶ 16]. He asserts that in 2012, World Travel Management operated “in direct competition with Plaintiff, but without the required licensure from the State of New Mexico subject to Defendant's regulation and oversight.” [Doc. 21 ¶ 30]. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant knew or had reason to know of World Travel Management's unlawful operation. Plaintiff asserts that he lost income as a result of this competition, and that he “has not been able to attend to his business properly due to the repetitive harassment by the PRC with investigations and audits.” [Doc. 21 ¶¶ 31-32]. Lastly, Plaintiff alleges that “the PRC has exhibited on numerous occasions inconsistencies as to treatment of businesses attempting to obtain licensures in the State of New Mexico.” [Doc. 21 ¶ 33].

         With respect to Count II, Plaintiff alleges various incidents of retaliation against him for reporting the unlawful operation of other car services to the PRC. In 2008, Plaintiff attempted to incorporate his business as a limited liability corporation (“LLC”), and was informed that, because he did not apply for a name change with the PRC, the addition of LLC to his business name was not in compliance with PRC regulations. [Doc. 21 ¶ 17]. In 2010, Plaintiff received a cease and desist letter with respect to the operation of his business under the name “Star Limo, LLC.”[2] Plaintiff asserts that after incorporating his business, he had to obtain new licenses from the PRC to operate his business. [Doc. 21 ¶ 18-19]. Plaintiff indicates that he filed a complaint with the PRC, which stated that “other similar businesses were operating similarly.” [Doc. 21 ¶ 20].

         Plaintiff alleges that after filing a complaint against Devine Limo for allegedly unlawful practices, Plaintiff was audited twice. [Doc. 21 ¶ 25]. Plaintiff further asserts that the car service, Uber, should be required to follow the same regulations as other car services.

         Plaintiff indicates that he rented one of his vehicles to a third party and an accident occurred. Apparently the PRC conducted an investigation of the incident, which caused Plaintiff embarrassment and inconvenience. [Doc. 21 ¶¶ 27-29].

         PROCEDURAL ...


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