Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, October 19, 2021


Page 1


Judge Approves $5.7 Million Award of Fees, Costs Against Uber

Final Judgment Comes in Case in Which $32.5 Million Settlement Was Reached


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A federal judge has approved an award of $5.7 million in attorney fees and costs in a class action, preliminarily settled in 2017, challenging Uber’s practice of tacking on a $1 “safe rides fee” that was not disclosed to passengers in advance and misrepresenting the extent of its efforts in conducting background checks of drivers.

District Court Jon Tigar of Northern District of California on Friday signed a final judgment providing:

“Class Counsel shall be awarded a total of $5,727,022.75 in attorneys fees and expenses ($5,689,440 in fees and $37,582.75 in expenses), which amount is approved as fair and reasonable…and is in accordance with the terms of the Amended Stipulation of Settlement.”

Among the provisions of the judgment are that Uber “will not describe or title any fee that they charge for their services, including any charge for Uber’s Rideshare Services, as the ‘Safe Rides Fee’ ” and, in its advertising,  “will not use the terms ‘best available,’ ‘industry leading,’ ‘gold standard,’ ‘safest,’ or ‘best-in-class’ in connection with their background checks.”

Class Defined

Under the resolution that was reached, a $32.5 million non-reversionary settlement fund was set up, with class members receiving an average of $1.07 each. Class members—numbering potentially 22.4 million persons nationwide—are those “who, from January 1, 2013 to January 31, 2016, used the Uber App or website to obtain service from one of the Uber Ride Services with a Safe Rides Fee in the United States or its territories.”

Tigar gave final approval to the settlement on Aug, 13, 2019, with the five named plaintiffs being granted incentive awards of $500 each, but with a denial without prejudice of the motion for $8.125 million in attorney fees and $39,312.83 in costs.

Further briefing ensued, and on Sept. 1, the judge ordered that a revised proposed judgment be submitted, including an award of attorney fees and costs.

Allegations Against Uber

According to the complaint in the case, “representations made by Uber are untrue or misleading in violation of California law” in that they led passengers to believe that drivers were extensively screened, when they were not. It quotes Uber as claiming that the background checks are “more rigorous than what is required to become a taxi driver,” when, in actuality, drivers were not obliged to present proof of their identities.

“Unlike many background checks. Uber’s process does not utilize fingerprints or even require the applicant to appear in person,” the pleading says. “Uber simply asks its drivers to submit information such as name, address, driver’s license number, and social security number through a webpage.”

Taxi companies in Uber’s “hometown of San Francisco” are required to misrepresenting employ “Live Scan” fingerprinting of drivers, the complaint notes.


Copyright 2021, Metropolitan News Company