Untrue or misleading representations about safety measures

In litigation, the City of San Francisco and City of Los Angeles alleged that Uber falsely claimed to offer the “safest ride on the road” with the “strictest safety standards possible,” which, the cities argued, was “likely to mislead consumers into believing Uber does everything it can to ensure their safety” when in fact better methods were available.

The cities further alleged that Uber’s claim to be “doing everything we can to make Uber the safest experience on the road” was inconsistent with the company’s lobbying against certain safety requirements then being discussed in the California legislature.

The People Of The State Of California v. Uber Technologies Inc A Delaware Corporation Et Al – litigation docket

Arbitration clauses repeatedly criticized by federal judges

Multiple judges criticized Uber’s requirement that passengers and drivers resolve disputes only in arbitration, foregoing lawsuits, group lawsuits such as class actions, trial by jury, and other standard legal protections.

In Meyer v. Uber, Judge Rakoff remarked that Uber’s arbitration requirement is “by no means prominently displayed on Uber’s registration screen” and that the presentation of the requirement is “obscure” and “inconspicuous” (2016 WL 4073012 at *8).

In Mohamed v. Uber, Judge Chen repeatedly criticized Uber’s arbitration requirement, finding it “both procedurally and substantively unconscionable, and therefore unenforceable as a matter of California law.” Among other concerns, Chen noted that the arbitration clause required drivers to pay half the cost of arbitration, that confidentiality clauses disproportionately benefited Uber, that a carve-out for intellectual property claims solely benefited Uber, and that Uber retained a right of unilateral modification.  Chen later reviewed Uber’s proposed revision, found it unsatisfactory, and insisted on further revisions.  Chen also criticized Uber’s communication with drivers about the arbitration clause under litigation, without court approval.

Hired a private investigator to investigate litigation adversaries

Uber hired a private investigator to interview friends and colleagues of Stephen Meyer, plaintiff in class action litigation against Uber, as well as Meyer’s attorneys.  Interviewing acquaintances and professional colleagues, the PI falsely claimed to be “profiling top up-and-coming” leaders and conducting “real estate market research.”  When plaintiff’s counsel learned about these inquiries and asked Uber’s counsel whether Uber had hired a PI, Uber attorneys claimed “Whoever is behind these calls, it is not us.”  But as evidence mounted, Uber eventually admitted to having initiated the investigation.

In criticizing Uber’s decision to “hire unlicensed private investigators to conduct secret personal investigation of both the plaintiff and his counsel” as well as the “blatant misrepresentations” and “false pretenses” of the investigation, federal judge Jed Rakoff found “sufficient basis to suspect that Ergo had committed fraud in investigating plaintiff through the use of false pretenses” and that Uber’s instructions had furthered the fraud.  Uber paid an undisclosed sum to plaintiff and plaintiff’s attorneys to resolve this misconduct.

Rakoff’s decision indicates that Uber’s investigation of Meyer and his attorneys was initiated by Uber then-General Counsel Salle Yoo who sought assistance from Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan.

Private investigator’s report.  Uber staff communicated with private investigator using Wickr, a self-deleting messaging app, though some messages were recovered during subsequent litigation.

Meyer v. Kalanick – litigation docket