Uber Technologies Inc. will be forced to eat the cost of background checks in the United States. US District Court Judge Jon Tigar made that inevitable by allowing a class-action lawsuit directed against Uber’s $1 “safe rides fee” to go forward.
Uber had been trying to settle the suit for $28.5 million but Tigar did not buy it. Instead he called the settlement unfair based on Uber’s revenues. Evidently Tigar did not see news stories that indicate Uber lost $1.27 billion, during the first six months of 2016.
Uber paid $10 million to dispose of a similar lawsuit brought by some California prosecutors in April 2016, Insurance Business America reported. The Safe Rides fee was introduced in April 2014 in an effort to pay for background checks.
The checks were not as rigorous or as comprehensive as they should be, plaintiffs’ attorneys in a case called Philliben v. Uber Technologies Inc., 3:14-cv-05615, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California are contending. The attorneys want Uber to reimburse 25 million customers who reportedly paid the fees.
Uber Facing Lawsuits
The case is big trouble for Uber because rulings might affect a number of lawsuits filed by women who allege they were sexual assaulted by drivers. One attorney involved in such a case in Los Angeles; Antonio Castillo III, charged that Uber had misled passengers with claims it is dedicated to keeping people safe on the road.
Castillo is representing a woman who alleged she was raped after an Uber driver gave her a bottle of drugged water that caused her to pass out, The Los Angeles Times reported. The driver in the incident later pleaded guilty to sexual battery and served six months in jail.
Background checks are at the center of the case. Castillo is contending that a more rigorous background check might have prevented his client’s assault.
“Right now, their background check largely consists of an online application with no fingerprinting and no in-person interview,” Castillo said. “Were there more rigorous background checks, or an in-person interview, even if someone had a clean background, it would act as a deterrent against certain behaviors.”
Uber is facing even greater problems in Michigan where Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton went on a seven-hour shooting rampage in Kalamazoo that that left six people dead. CNN reported that Dalton reportedly picked up fares and dropped them off between shootings. He was reportedly looking for more fares when police finally caught him.
It looks as if Uber’s legal troubles are about to get far worse.