22 N.E.3d 304 (Ohio Mun. 2014), 2014 EVH 060145, City of Columbus v. Lyft, Inc.

Docket Nº:2014 EVH 060145
Citation:22 N.E.3d 304
Opinion Judge:DANIEL R. HAWKINS, JUDGE.
Party Name:CITY OF COLUMBUS, Plaintiff, v. LYFT, INC., ET AL., Defendants
Case Date:September 19, 2014
Court:Municipal Court of Ohio
 
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Page 304

22 N.E.3d 304 (Ohio Mun. 2014)

CITY OF COLUMBUS, Plaintiff,

v.

LYFT, INC., ET AL., Defendants

No. 2014 EVH 060145

Franklin Municipal Court, Ohio

September 19, 2014

Page 305

DECISION AND ENTRY GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT LYFT'S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

DANIEL R. HAWKINS, JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court pursuant to Lyft, Inc's (" Defendant" ) September

Page 306

2, 2014 Motion for Protective Order and Injunctive Relief to Enjoin Production of Confidential, Proprietary and Trade Secret Information, and Sensitive, Personally Identifiable Information in Response to Public Records Requests Issued August 22, 2014. The City of Columbus (" Plaintiff" ) filed a Response on September 5, 2014 and Defendant filed a Reply on September 10, 2014. A hearing on the matter was held on September 10, 2014.

I) Background

The parties are currently engaged in an ongoing litigation wherein Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to enjoin Defendant from operating its Transportation Network Company (" TNC" ) within the City. Plaintiff withdrew its Motion for Temporary Restraining Order on May 5, 2014 after this Court denied a similar request involving another TNC. The combined injunction hearing in this matter is set for a later date. However, while preparing for the injunction hearing the parties and other industry players have been engaged in negotiations to create legislation that would allow Defendant and other similar companies to operate within the City. Indeed, the City of Columbus recently enacted legislation to better accommodate peer-to-peer platform companies such as Lyft.

As part of that new legislation, TNCs are required to submit a " Peer-to-Peer Transportation Network Company Application Packet" (" Company Packet" ) to the Department of Public Safety. Individual drivers for TNCs are required to submit a " Peer-to-Peer Transportation Network Driver Application Packet" (" Driver Packet" ). Defendant has now asked the Court prevent the release of the individual Driver Packets after the City received a public records request from a local media outlet.

Defendant claims that the packet and the information contained within it are exempt from public record disclosure as both proprietary trade secret information of the company and as sensitive, personally identifiable information on behalf of individual drivers. Defendant also initially sought to prevent the release of its insurance policies submitted with the Company Packet, but later withdrew that portion of the request.

Plaintiff has not challenged any factual allegations put forth by Defendant. Although Plaintiff questioned Defendant's standing to challenge the records request on behalf of individual drivers, it did not become a point of contention at the hearing. Additionally, the Court agrees with Defendant's assertion that it has standing to protect its " Driver List" under R.C. 1333.61(D) and has associational standing to protect the private information of Lyft drivers. See eg., Fednav, Ltd V. Chester, 547 F.3d 607; Thompson v Hayes, 2006-0hio-6000.

Prior to the hearing, the parties had agreed that certain information was exempt from a public records requests. Specifically, the City had agreed to redact or otherwise withhold applicants' federal ID numbers, driver license number, medical history, the BMV driver abstract, and the BCI criminal background check. At the hearing, Plaintiff also agreed to withhold individual driver's personal tax return information.

Defendant argues that the entire packet should be exempt from a public records request. After agreeing to withhold certain information, the City argues that the following information contained in the Driver Packet is still subject to a public record disclosure:

- Name of driver

- Driver's date of birth - Driver's contact information (address, phone numbers, email addresses) Page 307

- Physical descriptors of driver (race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc...)

- Proof of citizenship or personal residency - Prior felony convictions - Vehicle descriptions

Each of these categories will be analyzed applying appropriate statutory provisions and case law to determine if such information is a public record available for disclosure pursuant to a public records request, or if it must...

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