The Utah attorney general's office has reached a $221,000 settlement with a former Box Elder County couple who claimed the Legislature passed a law that ruined their commuter service.

Carroll C. Nichols, former principal at Box Elder High School, and his wife, Shirley, now residents of Mentone, Calif., sued the state in 1985, alleging the Ride Sharing Act of 1981 caused them to lose their investment in a shuttle service.In an effort to encourage ride sharing and reduce gasoline consumption, the act removed laws and regulations concerning common or contract carriers as they applied to ride sharing.

"It was a disaster" for the Nichols, who had purchased franchise rights to transport Thiokol employees, said Bob Hansen, the couple's lawyer.

"I think it's fair to say they lost nearly $500,000," Hansen said. At its peak, the business operated seven vans and two buses, he said.

At the couple's urging, the 1985 Legislature passed an amendment to the Unfair Practices Act, allowing common motor carriers who could prove they suffered losses from the Ride Sharing Act to recover up to $125,000 per claim.

The Utah attorney general's office contended the amendment was special legislation designed to benefit only the Nichols. Hansen argued some 30 other common carriers could have sued if they suffered similar losses.

Third District Judge James Sawaya ruled in 1988 that the amendment was not special legislation and ordered a $125,000 joint judgment.