Inferior access to passengers who use wheelchairs (Washington DC)

A June 2017 complaint, filed by the Equal Rights Center in federal court in Washington DC, criticized Uber’s failure to include wheelchair-accessible vehicles in its standard UberX fleet, alleging that this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The complaint criticized Uber Access, Uber’s wheelchair-capable service, as limited to a subset of markets as well as offering inferior service with approximately double the wait time and approximately double the fare.  The complaint alleged that not one vehicle in Uber’s 30,000-vehicle fleet in Washington DC is capable of transporting a passenger who uses a non-folding wheelchair.

litigation docket

Refused to provide driver names to San Francisco city government

When the city of San Francisco demanded that Uber provide it with drivers’ names and contact information so the city could demand that drivers obtain business licenses and pay applicable fees, Uber claimed that disclosures would violate drivers’ right to privacy. In a June 2017 ruling, Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer disagreed, ruling that the city Treasurer and Tax Collector had legal authority to demand the information.  He said compliance would not be unduly burdensome, and that any drivers who wished to challenge license requirements could do so on their own.

Lyft provided the data to San Fransisco without litigation.

Fired in-house lawyers who questioned proposed document retention policy change

When Uber planned to change its document retention policy, two in-house attorneys expressed concern about the change and discussed their concerns with outside counsel. Uber fired them. Critics suggested that Uber sought to change the document retention policy in order to reduce materials available to litigation adversaries — and it seems the skeptical in-house attorneys thought that change, however beneficial to Uber’s business interests, was not permitted under legal rules requiring preserving documents relevant to existing disputes.

Uber driver killed girl in crosswalk

On December 31, 2013, an Uber driver killed six-year-old Sophia Liu, who was walking in a crosswalk with her mother and brother.  At the time, the driver was between rides (with the Uber app open, hoping for a new request) but not actively serving a Uber passenger.  As a result, Uber denied that it was responsible or had to pay. Uber offered automatic insurance to all drivers, but the insurance offered no coverage in this circumstance.

In response to a lawsuit brought by Sophia’s family, Uber argued that it is merely a “technology company,” that it “did not cause this tragic accident.”

Without admitting that it was obliged to provide payment in this circumstance, Uber ultimately reached a confidential settlement with Sophia’s family.

Ang Jiang Liu Et Al v. Uber Technologies, Inc. Et Al. Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, Case No. CGC 14 536979.  Docket.

Google alleges Uber stole its autonomous car technologies

In a February 2017 lawsuit, Google alleged that Uber stole proprietary Google technology for autonomous cars. Google reported that Anthony Levandowski, an original member of Google’s self-driving car project, downloaded over 14,000 confidential files (9.7GB) pertaining to Google’s designs and testing, and used this information in Otto, a self-driving company that Uber later acquired. Complaint.

When Levandowski refused to testify or otherwise cooperate with litigation, invoking the Fifth Amendment to refuse to incriminate himself, Uber fired him.

Litigation brought by Benchmark Capital indicates that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick knew, before acquiring Otto, about the likelihood that Levandowski had Google materials. In particular, in March 2016, a month before Uber acquired Otto, Uber retained an investigator to assess whether Levandowski and others had Google materials. Benchmark Capital further alleges that Kalanick never shared this information with Uber investors.

Waymo v. Uber litigation docket

Obtained medical records of a customer

After an unnamed customer reported being raped by an Uber driver in India in December 2014, Uber executive Eric Alexander obtained her medical records and showed them to CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP Emil Michael.  As of June 2017, Alexander had left Uber.

In a June 2017 lawsuit, the customer filed a lawsuit against Uber as well as Alexander, Kalanick, and Michael for intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts, and defamation. In addition to noting the impropriety of Uber managers obtaining and examining her medical records without her consent, she flagged the inconsistency between Uber’s public claims (“We will do everything … to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim”) and its actual action.