California District Attorneys Sue Uber, Settle with Lyft

By Paul Riegler on 10 December 2014
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DSC_0161Two California district attorneys filed civil suits against ride-sharing service Uber on Tuesday, while simultaneously announcing a settlement of a civil consumer protection action with Uber competitor Lyft.

The complaint alleges that Uber made “false and misleading statements” to consumers and also engaged in a variety of unlawful business practices in violation of the California Business and Professions Code.

Uber stands accused of “making untrue or misleading representations regarding the quality of background checks it performs on drivers,” having its drivers work at airports in California without authorization from airport officials, and charging a $4 “airport fee toll” to customers traveling to and from San Francisco International Airport despite the fact that Uber and its drivers were not paying any fees to the airport.  Uber also charged a $1 “safe rides” fee to customers, saying it covered the cost of its background checks.

The two district attorneys, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, seek a permanent injunction against the company to stop these practices, a move which could have the effect of shutting Uber down in two of its larger markets, at least for the time being.  They are also seeking civil penalties and restitution for customers who paid the airport and safe rides fees.

Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, a San Francisco-based ride-sharing service, each received letters from the two district attorneys in September in which officials outlined their concerns about their offerings. The three companies were given until October to respond.

Lyft offered to settle and pay $500,000 in civil penalties, having “shown itself willing to address the issues that Uber has not been willing to address,” Gascon said Tuesday. “The settlement with Lyft demonstrates that technical innovation and corporate responsibility are not incompatible.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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