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Alexandria Yellow Cab Seeks to Dismiss Officer Laboy Civil Suit

Cab company says it could not have known Kashif Bashir, the suspect in the shooting of Alexandria Police Officer Peter Laboy, was a danger to the public.

Cab driven by Kashif Bashir, which crashed on Fort Hunt Road. (Patch file photo)
Cab driven by Kashif Bashir, which crashed on Fort Hunt Road. (Patch file photo)

Alexandria Yellow Cab claims it could not have known one of its drivers was dangerous and that the suspect in the February shooting of Alexandria Police Officer Peter Laboy was an independent contractor and not an employee of the cab company, according to court papers.    

Laboy, who was shot in the head Feb. 27 while responding to an incident involving an Alexandria Yellow Cab driver, filed a complaint in June alleging the taxi company was negligent in the hiring and supervision of its drivers and that such negligence contributed to his shooting.

The company made its claims about the driver, Kashif Bashir of Woodbridge, in a demurrer seeking to dismiss the civil suit filed by Laboy against the company.

The suit seeks $10 million in compensatory damages—$5 million for one count of negligent hiring and retention and $5 million for one count of negligent entrustment. The complaint cites damages of lost wages, medical fees and compensation for mental anguish, pain and suffering.

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. 

The demurrer, filed by Chap Petersen of Surovell, Isaacs, Petersen and Levy PLC on behalf of Alexandria Yellow Cab, says Laboy’s complaint is devoid of any facts to show Bashir’s actions were foreseeable to Alexandria Yellow Cab.

“There is no allegation of any actual violence ever committed by Bashir, on anyone, at any time prior to Laboy’s injury,” reads the demurrer. “Mere non-violent traffic infractions, a misdemeanor charge, and an isolated report of supposedly ‘threating’ behavior, simply do not establish any habit or pattern of conduct for violence.”

The demurrer states Bashir was an independent contractor of the cab company and was off-duty at the time of the incident.

The document also says Bashir underwent the required background check for cab drivers in Alexandria prior to the issuance of his driver’s permit.

“In Bashir’s case, the police and hack inspector were satisfied with the results of the background check and accordingly issued him a permit,” the demurrer reads. “Alexandria Yellow Cab reasonably relied on the results of the police and hack inspector investigations. … Accordingly, the allegations of Alexandria Yellow Cab’s negligence are without merit as a matter of law.”

David Martin, the Atlanta-based attorney representing Laboy, submitted its opposition on Tuesday saying the demurrer:    

“Rather than address the substance of Laboy’s allegations, AYC in its motions presents highly technical legal arguments—which we believe lack merit—which seek to evade the actual claims made by Laboy,” he wrote in a message to Patch. “Further, AYC has refused to divulge information requested by Laboy regarding its hiring and personnel practices, which Laboy believe will shed light on AYC’s irresponsible business practices.”

Laboy, 45, of Alexandria, was responding to a look-out from the department for a yellow cab minivan for a minor offense on Feb. 27 when he was shot in the head.

Soon after Laboy approached the cab, the Department of Emergency Communications began receiving emergency calls reporting an officer down.

Laboy was flown to Medstar Washington Hospital Center from the fields outside of Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy and had several hours of immediate surgery.

The driver of the cab fled the scene at Wilkes and St. Asaph streets and a patrol officer spotted the vehicle going south on Washington Street into Fairfax County.

A police chase ensued and Fairfax County Police took over the chase when the cab entered their jurisdiction. The cab crashed off Fort Hunt Road and Bashir was arrested.

Laboy was released from the hospital in late April and has undergone multiple surgeries and intensive therapy. According to the complaint, Laboy suffered severe and permanent debilitating injuries and life-long pain and suffering because of the injury. 

Bashir was indicted in May on one count of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, one count of aggravated malicious wounding and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.  

Bashir, 27, was found incompetent to stand trial in June. He suffers from auditory hallucinations and other mental health issues, according to his defense attorneys.

A review of the case has been set for Jan. 9, 2014.

Maureen Clyne August 21, 2013 at 08:59 AM
My Questions: 1) Why would AYC hire a man who had a report of "threatening behavior" for a job that requires for a service position that requires continuous interaction with the public? and 2) Why in the world was a cab driver carrying a gun while on the job?
Sam Hamilton August 21, 2013 at 09:27 AM
Maureen, AYC conducted the appropriate background check and the man was qualified according to both the police and the city inspector. And, according to this article, he <i>wasn't</i> on the job when this crime was committed.
Sam Hamilton August 21, 2013 at 09:31 AM
This lawsuit is a joke. I can only hope that Leboy is being put up to this by greedy lawyers and he's not really aware of what's going on. Otherwise, I'm sorry I donated to his relief fund. There is no way that AYC should be held liable for what one of its employees did while not on the job. Even if he had been on the job, there's no reason to suspect that Bashir would shoot someone. No employer should be held liable for their employees actions when they aren't working. If this lawsuit succeeds it sends a big message to employers: Don't hire anyone who has ever been found guilty of even minor violations of the law because you'll be sued if they commit another crime. It also sends a message to anyone who has ever been found guilty of anything: Don't expect to be hired for a job again. You're blacklisted.
Tom August 21, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Never a good thing when your lawyer's best defense is that the other side is using "highly technical legal arguments."
M Smith August 21, 2013 at 08:36 PM
What exactly did the shooter's affiliation with AYC have to do with the shooting? If Laboy had been a passenger in the cab and been shot by the driver, I could see a lawsuit. But this shooting had nothing to do with the shooter's affiliation with AYC. In other words, even if this guy weren't affiliated with AYC, the crime still would have happened. There is no proximate causation apparent to me.
NoBS August 22, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Depends...if he was off duty, why was in the cab at all? What had he been doing beforehand? Had there been any customer complaints about Bashir to Yellow Cab? Did they have any notice of his mental health issues? Did they know he carried a gun in the cab? Do they have a policy on allowing guns in their cabs? Did Bashir violate that or any other policy? Was this the first time? Did they know about it if he did it previously? I could go on and on. All sorts of things come out in the discovery phase.
NoBS August 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM
If I recall correctly, the cab belong to Bashir's uncle or some other family member. What exactly does "independent contractor" mean for purposes of Yellow Cab's hiring policies? Does it mean one their drivers who WAS a Yellow Cab employee "loaned" his cab to an independent contractor? That could make the company liable. Like I said...this is the discovery phase.
Mr. Brown August 22, 2013 at 10:45 AM
Gail, none of those questions would raise the issue of liability in a criminal case. AYC would have to knowingly facilitate some other crime as part of this action to become liable for the shooting. They would have more potential for liability if Bashir had crashed the cab into Ofc. Laboy.
NoBS August 22, 2013 at 03:31 PM
That would be up to the Judge, Matthew, not you or me. It would turn on the pleadings, state law, prior case law and whatever discovery revealed. You cannot be sure that "none of those questions would raise the issue of liability in a criminal case" and the suit against the cab company is a civil case, not a criminal case. For example, if a cab customer complained to Yellow Cab that Bashir once pulled a gun on said customer, and Yellow Cab continued to allow him to drive their cabs, you can bet a Judge would allow that fact to be introduced and the jury to consider it. It would be highly relevant. What if Yellow Cab management or employees had observed Bashir behaving in strange ways that might have suggested he was mentally unwell? We don't know what discovery will turn up. Just because Yellow Cab claims in their pleading that they could not have had such knowledge does not make it so. Reckless disregard for the truth could make them liable. That's what this is about...allowing discovery to proceed and not dismissing the case prior to discovery. Don't take Yellow Cab's word for it.
oldtowner August 23, 2013 at 11:00 PM
I wouldn't necessarily take the word of Laboy's lawyer either...guess the court(s) will sort this out....but I do find it a stretch that AYC knew Bashir was mentally ill, was threatening and/or violent and had a gun in his cab and just let it go.....
NoBS August 24, 2013 at 09:51 AM
From what I recall of the earliest reports, Bashir's relative - father, uncle or something like that - was a Yellow Cab employee. It think was the relative's cab that Bashir was driving that day. That raises issues. Did Yellow Cab or its employee know more about Bashir but let it slide because he was "family?" Were there cultural issues at play in denying mental illness? It all hinges on what Yellow Cab knew or didn't know and those facts must be explored before it is determined whether the case can proceed.
John Strother September 02, 2013 at 10:26 AM
The cab driver was driving a cab at the time, if off duty or not, he was still driving a cab when he shot the officer. This is the same thing as being responsible as an employer, the driving was in a company vehicle. Thus making the Business liable for it's employee's actions. If the shooter was in his own personal vehicle and without markings for a cab company, then the cab company wouldn't be responsible. However, the shooter was in and driving a cab at the time of the shooting. The shooter, did not steal the cab, it was his by some agreement. If the shooter had been in an accident, instead of shooting, the cab company would still be held responsible.
Mr. Brown September 03, 2013 at 06:04 AM
John, you're analogies are not legally sound. Companies are typically not liable for criminal behavior of employees, on or off duty. You draw a possibly correct analogy for liability for an accident, but shooting someone isn't an accident. Employers are typically not liable for employees who are at fault even in company owned vehicles while not doing something for work in the event of an accident. Yellow cab has to be proven to have known about a pattern of dangerous behavior that violated company policy and/or criminal law, and they have to be proven that they didn't do anything about it, to be held liable.
oldtowner September 03, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I'm no expert on the cab business in Alexandria, but I don't think the cab company owns the cabs. Correct me if I am wrong, please. I thought drivers owned their own cabs. Again, I could be wrong. I tend to agree w/ Matthew, and not John Strother. As far as we know, this guy had no history of violence or serious criminal behavior. I don't think AYC is liable, unless some new evidence comes up.
John Strother September 05, 2013 at 01:24 PM
the cab drivers rent their cabs, anyone that doesn't know, shouldn't be stating otherwise.
John Strother September 05, 2013 at 01:26 PM
oldtimer you must be nuts the cab company owns and rents the cabs to the drivers.
Maureen Clyne September 05, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Actually John I think whether cab drivers own or rent their cars depends upon the local jurisdiction's regulations. In some places, cabbies have to buy the medallion in order to drive a cab. In other areas, cabbies rent from the cab company. I admit that I'm not entirely sure about the relationship between drivers who own their medallions and the cab company they drive for - maybe they pay a percentage of their revenue in exchange for helping to generate business, etc. And I don't know the system that AYC uses. I also agree with Matthew - AYC is not liable for the driver shooting the cop, on or off duty. I believe that no company is responsible for the actions or behavior of their employees when they are off duty - there's no way they can control it. And I'm not even sure they would be liable even if the employee was on duty. As for my earlier comment re. why AYC hired someone with a report of threatening behavior: I didn't mean to suggest that they were at fault for doing so. As you note Sam, AYC did a complete background check. However, I question the wisdom of hiring a person with that kind of background for a front line service job that requires almost constant interaction with a wide variety of people. For that you need someone who can control their temper and manage difficult situations in a calm fashion. Also Mr. Strother, may I suggest a little more respect when disagreeing with someone - for instance not telling someone that s/he is "nuts." It makes for a more engaging and civil conversation and I think we can disagree without resorting to insults. Thanks!
oldtowner September 06, 2013 at 10:03 AM
Thx, Maureen Clyne: And I do believe Mr. Strother owes me an apology, but I doubt I will get one. Do a bit of research on the Alexandria City government website....search "taxicabs." It appears that individuals do own their cabs....then each cab co. is allowed (by the City) to contract with a certain number of cabs/drivers. The companies provide a dispatch service. Drivers have to apply and get permission (from the City) to switch companies. It might be different in other localities, but it seems most of the cabs in Alexandria are owned by individuals. Also, a recent article in Alexandria Times about the entry of Uber onto the scene states the following: "The business model is surprisingly similar to the way taxicab companies already function in Alexandria. Like Uber, they partner with local drivers, who own the cabs and pay for much of their upkeep, and provide a dispatch service." So, there you go. Regardless, I don't think AYC is liable for this particular individual's actions when he shot Ofc. Laboy.
oldtowner September 10, 2013 at 02:20 PM
I guess it is very difficult to admit you have made a mistake.

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