Calgary Operator Appeals to Supreme Court

Posted on July 15, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

CALGARY, Alberta – A four-year legal battle has led Mike Nickerson to Canada’s Supreme Court – and all because of a customized truck.

Nickerson, owner of Longhorn Limo in Calgary, has been wrangling with Transport Canada, the Canadian version of the U.S. Transportation Department, since he had his 1999 Chevrolet Crew Cab 4x4 stretched by 140 inches.

After a ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeals went against him, Nickerson said he asked Canada’s Supreme Court in June to hear this appeal.

Nickerson described himself as a former rancher who “never had a desire” to be in the limousine business. “It wasn’t until I was on holiday in Arizona that I saw a stretch truck just like this one and absolutely decided that I wanted one,” he said.

If that type of vehicle worked well in the U.S., there must be a market for such an exotic vehicle in Calgary, a city of more than 900,000 people whose economy is largely based on ranching and oil. Nickerson bought his Chevy in Calgary and shipped it to Three D Custom in Ft. Worth, a coachbuilder. Three D has apparently since gone out of business; its phone and Web site have been disconnected.

In early July of 1999, the newly converted stretch limousine returned to Alberta, passed inspections and was registered with the Alberta government. One month later, however, Transport Canada deemed the limousine unsafe and abruptly seized it.

Nickerson argued that the federal government had no jurisdiction over the vehicle.

Transport Canada officials “told me it didn’t meet their safety standards, but I said it didn’t have to, that it was an Alberta thing,” Nickerson said. “They seized it for six months and I went to court to get it back. We proved that they legally did not have a safety regulatory issue with the vehicle.”

But Transport Canada decided to pursue the issue, filing an appeal and accusing Nickerson of illegal importation.

A few years, 26 judges and hundreds of thousands of Canadian dollars later, Nickerson had not lost a ruling until earlier this year when the Alberta Court of Appeals, one step below the Canadian Supreme Court, overturned the original judge’s decision.

An appeals judge “said in his decision that because it changed classifications from a truck to a bus, it was therefore imported,” Nickerson said. “He wouldn’t allow my lawyer [Keith Groves] to argue the case so we never really had a chance to state our claim.”

Nickerson filed for an appeal with the Supreme Court in early June and was hoping for a response within a couple of months. In the meantime, he continues to operate the vehicle, as he has since April 2000. He also has a new, federally approved, 12-passenger Ford Excursion.

“We’re sometimes booked up to a year in advance, especially with weddings and graduations,” Nickerson said.

For a man who said he can’t afford to take a vacation, Nickerson refuses to give up the fight, even though his foe is much larger and has deeper financial pockets than he does.

“I’m just a stubborn old cowboy,” Nickerson said. “I’m certainly not trying to be a hero, but an awful lot of Canadians have come up to me and said, ‘Mike, you’re fighting for our rights. Keep fighting. Don’t quit.’ I’m at a point where there is no quitting, and even if I could, I feel I’d be letting a lot of people down.”

--Beverly Braga

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Dawson Rutter's Company Named Best Car Service

Commonwealth Worldwide earns the Boston ranking for the seventh time as it marks 35 years of chauffeured service.

Family Business Becomes Millennial’s Passion

eNews Exclusive: Fast 40 operator Nick Boccio got his start in a garage and has since taken up a desire to continue his grandfather’s legacy.

Luxury Vs. Affluent Travelers: What's The Difference?

Luxury spenders are more driven by experiential and authentic experiences.

Company Aims To Reach Peak Operating Performance

eNews Exclusive: Abdou and Hillary Louarti believe industry involvement and education help them stand out in a crowded market.

Uber Is Imploding, But Does Anyone Really Care?

The TNC may be a cesspool of sexism and harassment, but efficiency tends to trump corporate intrigue.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment



See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - June/Fact Book 2017 $12.95 * Facts & Stats * Directors & Guides *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment



Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close