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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS

COUNTY DEPARTMENT, LAW DIVISION


TAX & MISCELLANEOUS REMEDIES SECTION
METROPOLITAN PIER AND
EXPOSITION AUTHORITY, an Illinois
municipal corporation, CPIICAGO
CONVENTION AND TOURISM BUREAU,
a not-for-profit Illinois corporation, and
the VILLAGE OF ROSEMONT, an Illinois
municipal corporation
Plaintiffs,
V.

UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a Delaware


corporation, RASIER, LLC, a Delaware
limited liability company, and LYFT, INC.,
a Delaware corporation
Defendants.

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Case No. 1

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COMPLAINT

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Plaintiffs Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA ), Chicago Convention


and Tourism Bureau (Choose Chicago), and the Village of Rosemont, Illinois (Village of
Rosemonf or Village) (collectively, Plaintiffs), bring this complaint pursuant to 735 ILCS
5/2-701 for declaratory and other relief against Defendants Uber Technologies, Inc. ( Uber ),
Rasier, LLC (Rasier) and Lyft, Inc. (Lyft) (collectively, Defendants), and state as follows:
NATURE OF THE ACTION
1.

This case concerns Defendants refusal to remit the Airport Departure Tax (the

Tax), which MPEA is required to impose on all persons, other than governmental agencies,
engaged in the business of providing ground transportation for hire from Chicago OHare
International Airport (OHare) and Chicago Midway International Airport (Midway) to

passengers. Defendants are in the business of providing ground transportation for hire within the
metropolitan area of Chicago.

The City of Chicago, Illinois, (City of Chicago) recently

authorized Defendants to pick up rides and passengers from OHare and Midway. Despite the
fact that Defendants are statutorily obligated to remit the Tax to MPEA for the benefit of
Plaintiffs, they have refused to do so. Plaintiffs, therefore, bring this action against Defendants
for; (1) a declaratory judgment that Defendants are required to collect and remit the Tax to
Plaintiffs; and (2) a monetary judgment in the amount of the Tax, interest and penalties that are
due and owing to Plaintiffs from Defendants.
PARTIES
2.

MPEA is a municipal corporation and a unit of local government under the

Illinois Constitution of 1970.


3.

Choose Chicago is a not-for-profit Illinois corporation, with its principal place of

business in Chicago, Illinois. Choose Chicago is in the business of promoting Chicago tourism
and trade.
4.

The Village of Rosemont is a municipal corporation and home rule unit organized

under the Illinois Constitution of 1970. The Village is located immediately adjacent to OHare
and approximately 14 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop. The Village owns and operates
the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, a 890,000 square foot convention, exposition and
conference facility that the Village promotes, leases and licenses for the purpose of presenting
and conducting trade shows, conferences, conventions and expositions.
5.

Uber is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in San

Francisco, California.

Uber is authorized to conduct business and does conduct business

throughout Illinois, including in Cook County.

6.

Rasier, a Delaware limited liability company, is a subsidiary of Uber and is

fibers equivalent for purposes of this action. Rasier is authorized to conduct business and does
conduct business throughout Illinois, including in Cook County.
7.

Lyft is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in San

Francisco, California.

Lyft is authorized to conduct business and does conduct business

throughout Illinois, including in Cook County.


JURISDICTION AND VENUE
8.

This Court has jurisdiction over Defendants pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-209

because Defendants have transacted business in Illinois, out of which this cause of action arises,
and Defendants regularly conduct such business within Illinois.
9.

Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to Section 735 ILCS 5/2-I0I because

Defendants regularly conduct business within Cook County, Illinois, and such business gives rise
to this cause of action.
FACTS
10.

MPEA is a unit of local government and a municipal corporation, organized

and existing under the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority Act

( MPEA Act ).

70 ILCS 210/3, 4, 5.4(a). MPEA owns and contracts for the management of McCormick
Place and Navy Pier, and promotes and operates conventions, fairs and expositions in the
Chicago metropolitan area. Id. MPEA has a compelling and proprietary interest in the success,
competitiveness, and continued viability of McCormick Place and Navy Pier . . . and its
obligation to ensure that these facilities produce sufficient operating revenue. Id. at 5.4(a).
11.

In 1992, the MPEA Act was amended to provide for the issuance by the MPEA of

Expansion Project Bonds to finance the MPEAs capital improvement projects. Approximately

$2,669 billion of Expansion Project Bonds are currently outstanding and over $11 billion of debt
service payments will be required to pay the outstanding Expansion Project Bonds.
12.

The MPEA Act provides for the repayment of the Expansion Project Bonds from

three sources: (a) taxes imposed in the Chicago area (the Authority Taxes); (b) Annual State
Sales Tax Deposits; and (c) a share of any surplus revenues from the Illinois Sports Facilities
Authority, if there is any. The Authority Taxes include; (1) a Car Rental Tax; (2) a Restaurant
Tax; (3) a Hotel Tax; and (4) an Airport Departure Tax.
13.

Under the MPEA Act, the Authority Taxes are the first source for repayment of

the Expansion Project Bonds and the Annual State Sales Tax Deposits are the second source that
is available to meet the debt service requirements for the Expansion Project Bonds when the
Authority Taxes are insufficient. In other words, every dollar of Authority Tax receipts reduces
the States exposure to the use of Annual State Sales Taxes to pay MPEA Expansion Project
Bonds.
14.

The Expansion Project Bonds are all secured under an Indenture of Trust that

pledges and assigns all of the Authority Taxes as security for the repayment of the Expansion
Project Bonds. Additionally, the State has pledged to the holders of the Expansion Project
Bonds that the State will not limit or alter the rights and powers vested in the MPEA or the basis
on which State funds are to be paid to the MPEA.
15.

In addition to providing for the repayment of the Expansion Project Bonds, the

MPEA Act also provides for the funding of Choose Chicago and the maintenance and
improvement of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center from the Airport Departure Tax.
16.

Prior to September 1, 2010, revenue generated from the Airport Departure Tax

was allocated solely towards repayment of the Expansion Project Bonds (these pre-September 1,

2010 rates are collectively referred to as the Original Tax Amount).

Once the Airport

Departure Tax rates were doubled on September 1, 2010, the proceeds from the increase in the
tax rate (generally referred to as the Increased Tax Amount) were, and still are, allocated
towards Choose Chicago and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center; these additional
proceeds are not for the benefit of the MPEA or its bondholders and are not pledged as security
for or available for repayment of the MPEA.
17.

Specifically, after the City of Chicago collects the proceeds of the Airport

Departure Tax pursuant to the intergovernmental agreement with MPEA {see Ex, 1) and then
deducts the greater of 7.5% of the Tax collected, or $835,000, of costs associated with the
collection, enforcement and administration of the Tax, the remainder of the Tax is allocated,
pursuant to the MPEA Act, as follows:
a.

100% of the Original Tax Amount is paid to the State Treasurer, as trustee

for the MPEA, for deposit into a trust fund that is used to repay the MPEA Expansion Project
Bonds;
b.

75% of the Increased Tax Amount is paid to the MPEA and used to fund

grants to Choose Chicago. These grants support the convention purposes of the MPEA; and
c.

25% of the Increased Tax Amount is paid to the State Treasurer and

deposited in the Convention Center Support Fund, which is used for grants to the Donald E.
Stephens Convention Center.
18.

Historically, annual collections of the Airport Departure Tax have been

approximately $10 million of Original Tax Amount, which is allocated to the MPEAs Project
Expansion Bonds, and approximately $10 million of Increased Tax Amount, which is allocated
between Choose Chicago and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

The Airport

Departure Tax receipts allocated to Choose Chicago has become so significant, it makes up
almost 27% of Choose Chicagos 2016 operating budget.
19.

The MPEA Act both authorizes and requires the Authority to impose and collect

the Authority Taxes, including the Airport Departure Tax. With respect to the Airport Departure
Tax the mandate is set forth in Section 13(f) of the MPEA Act:
By ordinance the Authority shall. . . impose an occupation tax on all persons,
other than a governmental agency, engaged in the business of ground
transportation for hire to passengers in the metropolitan area at a rate of $4 per
taxi or livery vehicle departure with passengers for hire from commercial
service airports in the metropolitan area.
70 ILCS 210/13(f) (emphasis added).
20.

The MPEA must impose the entire amount of the Airport Departure Tax every

year with no abatement of the rate and the Authority may not exempt from the Airport Departure
Tax persons who are subject to the Tax. This maximum imposition of the Airport Departure Tax
is a statutory mandate even if the amount collected exceeds the debt service requirements for the
Expansion Project Bonds.
21.

In order to facilitate the imposition of this required occupation tax, the Illinois

General Assembly provided MPEA with the power to pass all ordinances and make all rules
and regulations proper or necessary to carry into effect the powers granted to [it].

70 ILCS

210/23.
22.

Thus, MPEA enacted the MPEA Airport Departure Tax Ordinance (MPEA

Ordinance), which became effective January 1, 1993. (Ex. 1, at Ex. A.)


23.

The MPEA Ordinance imposes an occupation tax for departures from commercial

service airports in the Chicago metropolitan area on all persons, other than a governmental

agency, engaged in the business of providing ground transportation to passengers for hire at
specific rates. (Ex. 1, at Ex. A, 1-3.)
24.

The MPEA Ordinance defines commercial service airport to mean any airport

located in Cook County, Illinois, receiving scheduled passenger service and enplaning more than
100,000 passengers per year. {Id. at 1-2.) OHare and Midway meet this definition.
25.

The MPEA Ordinance defines the phrase, engaged in the business of providing

ground transportation to passengers for hire, as;


operating, or causing or permitting to be operated, any motor vehicle for
transporting persons for consideration. The phrase includes, but is not limited to
operating, or causing or permitting to be operated, taxis; liveries; buses; vans;
charter or sightseeing vehicles; and non-emergency medical carriers.
{Id. (emphasis added.))
26.

The MPEA Ordinance, as amended, defines a livery as a motor vehicle . . .

(i) licensed as a livery vehicle . . . and (ii) for hire to passengers at a charge or fare per trip or per
passenger fixed by agreement in advance. MPEA Ordinance No. 15-03, at 1-2 (attached as
Ex. 2.). It also expressly provides that [t]he term livery shall also include all transportation
network vehicles. {Id.)
27.

A transportation network vehicle is defined by the MPEA Ordinance as any

vehicle used to provide a transportation network service.

{Id.)

Transportation network

service means a prearranged transportation service offered or provided for compensation using
an Internet-enabled application or digital platform to connect potential passengers with
transportation network drivers.

{Id.) Transportation network drivers are affiliated with a

transportation network provider and transport passengers for compensation using this
transportation network vehicle.

{Id.)

'Transportation network providers in turn offer or

provide . . . transportation network services. {Id.)


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Exhibit 1

36.

Passengers with iPhones or Androids (and a Facebook account) can similarly use

the Lyft app to request a ride. Lyfl asks the passengers for their pick-up location and sends the
request to available transportation network drivers. If a driver accepts the request, the Lyft app
provides the passenger with a picture of the driver and a description of the car to expect. The
fare is calculated by Lyft, based on a time and distance calculation. The fare is paid to Lyft via
the passengers credit card registered with Lyft.
37.

In violation of the MPEA Ordinance, Defendants have failed and refuse to remit

the Tax on each of their transportation network vehicles departures from Midway and OHare to
MPEA.
38.

On January 7, 2016, MPEA notified Defendants of their statutory obligation to

remit the Tax for each of Defendants transportation network vehicles departures from Midway
and OHare, and warned of potential legal ramifications if Defendants failed to remit the Tax by
January 18, 2016. (S'ee Exs. 3, 4.)
39.

To date, none of the Defendants have paid the Tax that is due and owing to

Plaintiffs.
COUNT I - ACTION FOR A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
40.

Plaintiffs adopt and reallege paragraphs 1-39 above as and for this paragraph 40.

41.

Plaintiffs, the Expansion Project Bond bondholders and the State have a clear

legal interest in collecting the Tax from Defendants on each departure from OHare and Midway.
42.

Plaintiffs have communicated to Defendants their position that Defendants are

required to remit the Tax on each of their transportation network vehicles departures from
OHare and Midway, pursuant to 70 ILCS 210/13(1) and the MPEA Ordinance, and
Defendants have taken the position that they are not required to do so.

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43.

A real and existing controversy exists as to the issue of whether Defendants are

required to collect and remit the Tax on each of their transportation network vehicles departures
from OHare and Midway.
44.

A declaration by the Court, as requested below, will terminate the controversy

over whether Defendants are required to collect and remit the Tax on each of their transportation
network vehicles departures from OHare and Midway.
45.

Resolving this controversy will avoid further litigation and other potential harm to

Plaintiffs and Defendants.


WHEREFORE Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court find in their favor
and against Defendants and grant the following relief:
a.

a declaration that Defendants are required to collect and remit the Tax on

each of their transportation network vehicles departures from OHare and Midway; and
b.

such other relief as this Court deems warranted.


COUNT II - ACTION FOR TAX, INTEREST AND PENALTIES

46.

Plaintiffs adopt and reallege paragraphs 1^5 above as and for this paragraph 46.

47.

Defendants have failed to collect and remit the Tax due and owing as required by

Sections 1-3 of the Ordinance and Section 3-46-035 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.
48.

Pursuant to Code Section 3-4-280, the Tax is a debt due and owing by Defendants

to MPEA.
49.

Pursuant to Code Section 3-46-035, Defendants are also liable for interest and

penalties for Taxes withheld on each of Defendants transportation network vehicles departures
from OHare and Midway since Defendants were authorized to pick up rides and passengers
from these airports in November 2015.

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Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4