Rideshare Lawsuit Updates & News | April 2024

Editorial Team


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 5 mins

In the evolving gig economy, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft face legal challenges over drivers' rights and passenger safety. Recent lawsuit developments are reshaping the industry's future. This section highlights key legal updates and their implications for the rideshare ecosystem:

  1. Judge Charles Breyer has mandated that Uber release all documents shared with government bodies during investigations into sexual assaults within the company. This order aims to uncover Uber's approach towards passenger and women's safety. Critics argue that Uber has inadequately protected passengers from potential criminal acts by drivers, pointing to the numerous reports and allegations of sexual assault as evidence of the company's negligence.

  2. A Connecticut court has denied Lyft's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit regarding a 14-year-old girl who was transported across state lines into New York and allegedly sexually abused. The lawsuit accuses Lyft of negligence for not verifying the girl's age in violation of its policy against driving minors unaccompanied. Despite Lyft's defense of not being liable for the driver's actions, the court is allowing the addition of vicarious liability and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, removing a negligent supervision claim. The judge highlighted Lyft's existing policy on minors as evidence that the company should have foreseen such risks.

  3. A master complaint has been officially filed in the Uber multidistrict litigation, streamlining the process for new plaintiffs. This document outlines the core allegations against Uber, accusing it of prioritizing growth and profit over passenger safety since 2014. Despite knowledge of sexual assaults by drivers, Uber allegedly failed to implement essential safety measures such as in-car cameras, biometric verification, and stricter background checks. Moreover, the complaint accuses Uber of permitting drivers with histories of sexual misconduct to remain active on the platform. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for their injuries and punitive damages against Uber for its alleged negligence and harmful conduct.

  4. This week marked the filing of the 100th lawsuit in the Uber sexual assault multidistrict litigation (MDL). Despite its growth, this mass tort is expanding more slowly compared to cases involving commercial products. The slower pace is attributed to minimal advertisement on television and radio, coupled with the hesitancy of sexual assault survivors to come forward with their experiences. It is expected that the number of cases filed in the MDL will surpass 300 by the upcoming summer.

  5. Uber has appealed against the decision of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate sexual assault lawsuits into a single multidistrict litigation (MDL), arguing that the panel abused its discretion and neglected the diversity of state laws involved. Despite Uber's appeal, it's important to note that the JPML has a solid track record of its decisions on centralization of cases being upheld. This move by Uber is perceived more as a last-ditch effort or a strategy to delay proceedings.

  6. Uber made a move to dissolve the sexual assault multidistrict litigation (MDL), established on October 4, 2023, by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). This MDL consolidated federal cases involving claims of sexual assault by Uber drivers. Uber's argument to Judge Breyer highlighted an alleged misuse of discretion in forming the MDL, suggesting it disregarded the varied state laws applicable to these cases. However, Uber's challenge lacks historical support, as the JPML's decisions to centralize cases have never been reversed in its 55-year history.

  7. As the Ninth Circuit reevaluates the Uber sexual assault multidistrict litigation (MDL), Uber has sought to block the addition of new claims. Plaintiffs have recently urged Judge Gergel to dismiss Uber's request, stating that excluding new claims could harm the integrity of the legal process. The court is expected to make a decision following a status conference held on January 19. Meanwhile, six new lawsuits have been filed against Uber by passengers alleging sexual abuse, including two reports of rape. These lawsuits claim Uber neglected to adopt basic safety measures to protect passengers using its service.

  8. In response to Uber's efforts to disclaim responsibility for certain incidents within the sexual assault multidistrict litigation (MDL), the Ninth Circuit has sought the guidance of the California Supreme Court. This move follows a claim within the MDL where a plaintiff argues that Uber should be liable for a sexual assault committed by a former driver who misrepresented himself as an independent contractor after being terminated. Uber maintains that it cannot be held accountable for the actions of someone not currently an active driver.

  9. The Ninth Circuit's recent ruling has led to a pause in the Uber sexual assault multidistrict litigation (MDL). Despite not succeeding in changing the case name to exclude "sexual assault," Uber obtained approval for a hearing to consider dismissing the MDL. The company argues that consolidating the lawsuits for pretrial activities is unsuitable due to the variance in claims, injuries, and laws involved. Following the appeals court's decision in December, Uber has requested a two-month suspension of the MDL proceedings. Currently, there has been no response to this request from either the newly formed Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee or Judge Breyer.

  10. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided against Uber's request to remove "sexual assault" from the title of the federal Uber sexual assault cases consolidated before Judge Breyer in the Northern District of California. Uber's legal team argued that including "sexual assault" in the MDL's name presupposes guilt, pointing to precedents where MDL titles were altered. However, the JPML has chosen to retain the original naming.

  11. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, a group of federal judges, has moved to consolidate close to eighty lawsuits related to Uber sexual assaults before Judge Charles R. Breyer in the Northern District of California. This action creates a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for all current federal cases, with expectations for the number of lawsuits within the MDL to increase over time.

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