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Yellow Cab, Jojo's Taxi ordered to cease and desist

Owner Alex Palmgren operated without valid driver's license

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A Yellow Cab turns onto London Road in Duluth on 2019. Yellow Cab/Jojo's Taxi has been ordered to cease and desist operations in the city.
File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH —A local taxi company was ordered to cease and desist operations in Duluth following a physical altercation between a passenger and the owner over a ride fare. The driver and owner of Yellow Cab/Jojo's Taxi LLC, Alex Palmgren, 29, was operating a licensed taxi without a valid driver's license at the time of the incident.

Duluth Police Department responded to the disturbance at Miller Hill Mall on May 12. The passenger, Jeffrey Davis, 52, reported Palmgren over-charged for the ride. Davis told officers he refused to pay and attempted to exit the vehicle from the passenger-side rear seat when Palmgren accelerated.

According to the police report, this led Davis to believe he was being abducted. Davis reported he and Palmgren grappled inside the vehicle. Davis reported when they exited the vehicle, Palmgren threatened to shoot him, however, he did not see a handgun.

Davis was cited for theft of services and disorderly conduct. Palmgren was cited for driving after revocation. Since Palmgren was ordered to cease and desist operating taxi cabs in the city, it has been reported to the police that he has continued to operate in violation of the order, Duluth City Clerk Ian Johnson said.

Palmgren unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the license revocation to the City Council. A resolution passed unanimously on Monday evening affirming the revocation of the taxi license held by JoJo's Taxi LLC Yellow Cab Taxi. Councilor Mike Mayou was absent. A video of the meeting is available at duluth-mn.granicus.com/player/clip/404 . (Palmgren is heard starting at 9.5 minutes into the video.)

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Any license reapplications from Palmgren would be subject to review by the police department and undergo a criminal background check, Johnson added.

"It is quite rare for us to revoke licenses," Johnson said. "In my tenure, it's the first time we've revoked a taxi cab license. Whether they would recommend this particular applicant for a license again is questionable."

Minnesota Court Records indicate Palmgren was convicted of felonies for theft Nov. 17, 2010; third-degree burglary Dec. 9, 2011; and escape from custody Dec. 30, 2011. Additionally, Palmgren has been convicted of more than 40 traffic violations since 2015, including driving after revocation; driving after suspension; no proof of insurance; failure to stop; no seat belt; careless driving; and speeding.

Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman said the ordinance and license standards are in place to protect passengers, and make sure taxi drivers have all of the responsible qualifications expected out of a licensee.

"We are making sure that people who are riding are in a position to be safe and get where they're going, and have that be something that's done under the city's guidance," Schuchman said. "It is not a service we would encourage people to use because they're not following the rules."

Man leaving a cab.
A SK Taxi drops off a fare at Duluth International Airport on Thursday. SK and Allied Taxi are licensed to operate a total of 12 cabs in Duluth.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Man getting in a taxi.
A fare enters an Allied Taxi at Duluth International Airport on Thursday. Allied is one of just two taxi companies currently licensed to operate in Duluth.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Council Vice President Janet Kennedy expressed concern about the transportation gap that may result from the loss of Jojo's fleet of five taxis. According to Johnson in a follow-up interview, companies SK Taxi and Allied Taxi operate a total of 12 taxis currently serving Duluth.

Ride-sharing apps such as Lyft and Uber are also available and licensed through the city, he added. These are considered transportation network companies, and require internal records of verification for each driver's valid insurance, license and criminal background to be made accessible to the city upon request.

The city is reviewing applications for two new companies that would add taxi services to the area, Johnson said.

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Have a business tip or story idea for The Memo? Send it to bbredsten@duluthnews.com.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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