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A recent decision certified for publication out of California's First Appellate District rejected a potential taxi driver class action against Uber. The claims in Goncharov v. Uber were based on allegations of income and passenger appropriation as a result of Uber, essentially, not playing by the rules.
However, as the appellate decision explains, even though Uber didn't play by the rules, the rules didn't quite exist. As a result, Uber reached a settlement with the CPUC to allow them to operate while the final rulemaking for TNCs (Transportation Network Companies) were still underway. As the court reasoned, this left taxi drivers with no viable claims.
There is little to no doubt that the taxi and private car service took a serious hit when TNCs like Uber and Lyft disrupted the industry. And the plaintiffs' case mainly rested on the premise that this disruption was unfair and had a big impact on the lives of the taxi drivers.
Whereas taxis used to have a near exclusive run of the market, which allowed regulators to make operating a legal taxi rather expensive, the times have changed for the worse for taxis, and regulators haven't stepped in to help. Rather, as the plaintiffs see it, the regulators allowed companies like Uber and Lyft to continue operating between the law, thus disadvantaging taxi companies and drivers.
In denying the plaintiffs' claims, the court also refused to find an avenue to liability for Uber's conduct before the regulatory scheme was developed. The plaintiffs argued that if the court found no claim against Uber after it reached a settlement with the CPUC regarding operating as a TNC, then it should find one for the time before the settlement was reached. Unfortunately for the driver, despite this creative argument, the court did not agree.
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