Lyft was set to launch in two parts of New York City today, a plan that was derailed following a court battle with state's attorney general that's now stretched into next week, and possibly beyond. Now the two sides have begun a public war of words against one another about why the ridesharing service didn't launch, with Lyft going so far as to say the New York official is lying.
According to the New York attorney general, the State Supreme Court granted an injunction that kept Lyft from launching as planned. Now Lyft is saying that's a "deliberate misstatement," and that it's the one that put the launch on hold in order to make changes to its service that will comply with local regulations.
"There was no [temporary restraining order] or injunction granted today. Instead, the judge adjourned to Monday and we agreed to hold our launch and maintain status quo," Lyft spokesperson Erin Simpson said in a statement to The Verge. "There would be no need for a hearing on Monday if a TRO or injunction was granted. As further proof that court was adjourned, the AG's insurance claims were never presented and Lyft had no opportunity to respond."
"This is a deliberate misstatement."
Simpson added that the company was obtaining a copy of the court transcript, as well as witness accounts of those in court in order "to show this is a deliberate misstatement by the AG and DFS."
By comparison, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York State Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky say that the court's already agreed with its injunction effort, and that the two sides are returning to court next week to discuss Lyft's presence in other parts of the state like Buffalo and Rochester, where the service already exists.
The spat doesn't bode well for Lyft's entry into New York, which company co-founder John Zimmer has called a "massive opportunity." The company is already in 66 cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Its initial plan for New York was to target Brooklyn and Queens, with eventual expansion into Manhattan. According to the New York attorney general and TLC's filing, Lyft jumped the gun going ahead with the launch after being asked to put it on hold while the details about regulatory compliance could be hashed out.
Lyft has called New York a "massive opportunity"
Despite today's setback, Lyft is carrying on with its plans to hold a party in New York City to celebrate the launch of the service. The company originally planned to launch at 7PM local time, with two weeks of free rides for new users as part of a limited time deal. Now the company says its launch will happen as soon as it gets an approval from the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which regulates car services, even if that means changes to its current model.
"We agreed in New York State Supreme Court to put off the launch of Lyft's peer-to-peer model in New York City and we will not proceed with this model unless it complies with New York City Taxi and Limousine regulations," Lyft's Simpson said. "We will meet with the TLC beginning Monday to work on a new version of Lyft that is fully-licensed by the TLC, and we will launch immediately upon the TLC's approval."
Adrianne Jeffries contributed to this report.