In a State that includes Hollywood as well as Disneyland’s Star Wars expansion, it is difficult to hear much news other than all the hype surrounding Disney’s release of the next film further expanding upon the Star Wars universe. However, the latest ruling in the Uber saga involving thousands of its drivers hoping to be labeled ‘employees’ has made waves across the nation. This is of course a reference to the most recent ruling by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, which has now allowed more drivers than ever to join the potential plaintiff class against the rideshare giant. The Uber lawsuit, as it has become colloquially known, may arguably come to define transportation law in Northern California.
The court’s decision stemmed from a supplemental motion for class certification filed by the plaintiff drivers. This motion requested that the court expand the composition of the class of drivers who can join in the fight against Uber in order to recover damages that they believe are owed. The expansion, now that it has been granted, includes drivers who signed a more recent agreement with Uber but failed to take advantage of the “opt-out provision” allowing them to avoid mandatory arbitration for any disputes. It should be noted that while the court seems to be signaling its continued support for the plaintiffs’ lawsuit given the string of favorable decisions against the defendant, the court only granted the motion with regard to one of three requested plaintiff groups. The court specifically denied the motion as it regarded drivers who operated through third party transportation companies and those who used corporate names. The court explained that while the plaintiffs could file a later supplemental motion to certify these two groups, they would need to overcome the current idea that these groups do not meet the requirements to be considered part of the class.
Thus far, Uber’s representatives have downplayed the effect of this ruling on the rideshare company and the lawsuit and have announced their immediate decision to appeal it. Other spectators who are eager to see the outcome of this seemingly massive undertaking by the plaintiffs think that the decision may prove to be more costly than the giant is anticipating. Essentially, the biggest potential liability that may come from this most recent ruling is the addition of thousands of plaintiffs, plus a potential future motion to add those groups who are still left out of the fray at this point in time. Adding plaintiffs in the short-term may not seem to be significant, but once the case moves forward toward the potential damages phase, more plaintiffs mean more money that Uber would have to pay.
Much of the talk surrounding the Uber litigation is speculation as this case has a long way to go before anyone has their “day in court.” However, as this case is one of hundreds throughout the country, its path forward is potentially going to act as a guide map for all other plaintiffs seeking remediation from rideshare companies such as Lyft, Uber, and others. The professionals at Garcia & Gurney are also watching and will continue to monitor the progress of this case, and others, involving all aspects of transportation law. If you have questions, call today and speak to an experienced attorney who can provide you with guidance and representation, if needed.