Uber Forking Out US$28.5 Million To Settle Two Court Cases

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt high court will hold a hearing on a recent lawsuit brought against Uberpop by Taxi Deutschland on Tuesday.  San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. The company has faced regulatory scrutiny and court injunctions from its early days, even as it has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world.   REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

Uber has settled two class-action lawsuits in US District Court for the Northern District of California surrounding the ride-sharing app’s $1 ‘safe ride fee’ and its safety practices advertising.

ERIN MARY Doyle
Posted by ERIN MARY Doyle

The two cases: Philliben v. Uber Technologies, Inc. and Mena v. Uber Technologies, Inc., claimed Uber falsely advertisied the company as the “safest ride on the road” and “industry-leading background checks” but did not check Uber drivers against the national sex-offender registry or employ fingerprint identification.

The Safe Ride Fee was introduced back in April 2014, to support the increased costs of Federal, state and local background checks, regular motor vehicle screenings, driver safety education, current and future development of safety features in the app, and more. The lawsuits claimed the fee misled consumers about how safe Uber’s service was.

The $28.5 million pay out will be eligible to 25 million riders, meaning the affected customers will get less than a full dollar after the lawyers receive their payday.

In a media release on Uber’s site, a Uber representative said: “Technology enables us to focus on safety for riders and drivers before, during and after a trip in ways that were simply not possible before smartphones.  For example, by sharing driver information with riders–their license plate and photo ID–before they get into the car; by tracking trips using GPS from beginning to end; and by enabling riders to share their ETA or route with family and friends.

“However no means of transportation can ever be 100 percent safe. Accidents and incidents do happen. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the language we use to describe safety at Uber is clear and precise.”

Uber will be replacing the ‘Safe Ride Fee’ for a ‘Booking Fee’, the fee will cover safety as well as “additional operational costs that could arise in the future”.