Yellow Cab may be in violation of state passenger safety requirement

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 1:09 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 27 at 12:25 PM

DALLAS –– Public records show that Yellow Cab may be in violation of a statewide passenger safety requirement that mandates taxi companies carry $750,000 in insurance when transporting Medicaid patients. 

Records show the company does not meet that requirement.  

The state of Texas is now investigating News 8’s findings to determine if Yellow Cab is in compliance with insurance standards for a contract that’s paid the taxi company nearly $82 million over a four-and-a-half year period. 

This follows a series of reports, from News 8 that the city of Dallas has given Yellow special treatment for 12 years, allowing the taxi company to operate without sufficient insurance intended to ensure the safety of passengers.  The city of Dallas forced Yellow to obtain new insurance coverage after it learned Yellow’s existing policy was insufficient.

Insurance coverage on Medicaid rides is critical to the family of Maria Vasquez.

“She loved grandkids. That was her passion to see them laugh and play,” said her son Cipriano Vazquez.

In 2012, a cab driver subcontracting for the parent of Yellow Cab loaded Vazquez into a van for a trip to the doctor. The driver wrecked. Vazquez, who was blind, was thrown from her wheelchair. The driver admitted to first responders he failed to buckle Vazquez in.  

Vazquez died four days later, her death certificate says, from “blunt force injuries of the lower extremities”.

“The way that she was screaming, just screaming that she did not want anybody to touch her legs,” said her son Cipriano.

Medicaid pays Irving Holdings, the parent company of Yellow Cab, to take people like Maria Vazquez to their doctor’s appointments. From 2009 to 2012, records show Irving and Yellow has collected more than $82-million in Medicaid money for these trips.  

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission administers the contract. It says Irving and Yellow must have $750,000 in insurance coverage to pay the claims of injured passengers, like Vazquez.

But Irving and Yellow’s proof of insurance from the period when Vazquez died, provided to the State by the taxi company shows it had $500,000 in coverage, not the $750,000 that’s required. 

Yellow Cab says it is not bound by the contract language requiring $750,000 in coverage. Instead, it follows local industry standards, which call for bless coverage than what’s in the contract. For example, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth require a taxi company to carry $500,000 in coverage. Yellow considers that the industry standard.

Yellow says the state always the accepted its $500,000 insurance policy, until now. News 8 asked the state why it accepted coverage less than what its own rules call for, but it did not provide an answer.

“They’re taking the position that they have no insurance for this claim, at all,” said George Boll, a lawyer representing the Vazquez family in a lawsuit against Irving and Yellow Cab.

A subcontractor was driving when Vazquez died. The driver agreed to pay $500,000 to the Vazquez family. But Irving and Yellow refuses. In court filings, the company say Vazquez’ injuries were “overstated” “exaggerated” and “pre-existing.”  

Also, Yellow and Irving says it is not responsible for Vazquez’ death because the van driver was a subcontractor over whom the Yellow “had no control.”

That, however, contradicts the Medicaid contract’s Terms and Conditions.  The language requires a contractor, like Yellow, to assume “… full responsibility for its acts and acts of personnel and subcontractors…” 

“Can you imagine the frustration of somebody who is not an attorney having to deal with that sort of shell game?,” asked Boll

Email dschechter@wfaa.com

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