Cabbies’ Suit Over Uber Safety on the Ropes


     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge said Thursday he was inclined to dismiss a case claiming that Uber made false claims about the safety of its rides.
     A group of 19 cab companies sued Uber Technologies in March 2015, claiming the ride-sharing company lied about offering “the safest rides on the road” on its website, in advertisements and in media statements.
     This past month, the California Public Utilities Commission fined an Uber subsidiary $7.6 million for delaying responses to requests for safety information and data.
     At Thursday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said he was inclined to dismiss the class action because the case did not seem like it belonged in Federal Court.
     “I wonder what a case concerning California’s unfair competition law is doing in the federal circuit,” Tigar said.
     Tigar also said that the plaintiffs’ litigation seemed to interfere with the state utility commission’s ongoing proposed imposition of new regulations on Uber, which include tight inspections on how the company handles its drivers’ criminal records.
     Harold Jaffe, who argued for the plaintiffs, disagreed.
     “Ongoing review doesn’t mean that all conduct under review is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the PUC, any more than the PUC would necessarily have jurisdiction if I was an Uber driver and I ran counsel over at the crosswalk by going through a red light,” Jaffe said.
     Tigar noted that many of the allegations in the plaintiffs’ complaint refer specifically to actions taken by the commission, and wondered whether those particular allegations were actionable in court.
     Uber also moved to strike from the plaintiffs’ complaint allegations for the purpose of “context” and “background,” but Tigar seemed skeptical.
     “I don’t like motions to strike, and context and background are permissible reasons to put things in a complaint,” he said.
     Although Tigar tentatively dismissed the complaint, he said that he would not necessarily do so with prejudice.
     Jaffe’s office is in Oakland.
     Uber is represented by Marshall Wallace, with Allen Matkins in San Francisco.

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