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Uber Settles Airport-Fee Dispute for $1.8 Million

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Uber will refund customers $1.8 million in airport "tolls" and "fees" that it charged them to go to and from California airports, a federal judge said.

Uber charged passengers an "airport fee" whether airports assessed such a fee or not.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James on Monday told Uber to pay all the money back: $1,814,909.55.

She also enjoined it "from continuing to collect such tolls in California unless remitted to the airport."

Uber must pay refunds "automatically" and within 30 days of her order that gave final approval to the class settlement. Class members need not submit claim forms.

"Uber may still assess 'surcharges or other added fees' for trips to or from California airports or other destinations, provided those surcharges and fees are not described as 'tolls' that are charged by airports if the fees are not remitted to the airports," James said in her order.

Uber Technologies was founded in 2009 in San Francisco. The service is available in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide.

Lead plaintiff Vamsi Tadepalli sued Uber in December 2014 after he paid $27.57 for a ride to San Francisco International Airport the previous July. That included a $4 airport fee.

Tadepalli sued for breach of contract, breach of faith, unjust enrichment, conversion, fraudulent concealment and unfair competition.

He said that California airports do not charge ride-sharing drivers taxes, fees, tolls or surcharges and that Uber should not charge customers for fees that don't exist.

Uber admitted charging the fees, but denied that it did so "wrongfully."

The estimated $62 billion company removed the case to Federal Court in September 2015. Tadepalli filed a motion for preliminary approval on Nov. 20, 2015, after "exhaustive arm's-length negotiations."

James approved the settlement and dismissed with prejudice, but retained jurisdiction to "administer and enforce the settlement agreement."

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