Portland v. Uber Will be Heard in Federal Court

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A federal judge Monday denied Portland, Oregon’s request to remand its lawsuit against car-sharing service Uber back to county court.
     Portland sued Uber on Dec. 8, after warning it not to expand from the suburbs into the city.
     Portland wants Uber regulated like other taxi companies, accused it of running an “illegal, unregulated transportation service,” and claimed Uber violated a city law requiring cab services to outfit 20 percent of their vehicles for disabled people.
     The city sued in Multnomah County Court.
     Uber removed it to Federal Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
     Portland asked for remand to state court because the amount of money in controversy was not enough for diversity jurisdiction.
     U.S. District Judge Michael Simon disagreed on Monday.
     Uber claimed it would cost more than $75,000 to comply with the city’s injunction, and that it would lose more than that in profits if it were enjoined from operating there.
     “The City also argues that a business may not profit from illegal activity, but whether Uber’s activity is illegal is a question reserved for the merits in this case,” Simon wrote in his 4-page Opinion and Order.
     “The City cannot prevail on its motion to remand by putting the cart before the horse,” Simon wrote.
     Finding that Uber’s arguments about the cost of compliance were unrebutted in court filings thus far, he denied the city’s motion for remand.
     Since Uber began operating in Portland, drivers have been subject to citations and even sting operations.
     “If Uber thinks there should be no maximum price on what they charge Portlanders, they should make their case to the Portland City Council,” Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick said in a statement.
     He continued: “If Uber thinks taxi companies shouldn’t have to serve people with disabilities, they should make their case.
     “If Uber thinks taxis should not have to have proper insurance in case of a crash, they should tell us why we should allow that.”
     Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Dec. 23 in Judge Simon’s courtroom.

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