Trials & Litigation

Cab companies sue Uber, call 'safer than a taxi' ad claim deceptive

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Is a criminal background check, based on fingerprints, the best way to screen taxi drivers and assure passenger safety?

Or does the Uber Technologies system of checking a private UberX driver’s name against court records, driving records and a national sex offender database, as well as a system of Internet reviews by passengers, provide as much or greater security?

Those are questions that a federal jury in San Francisco may have to answer to resolve a lawsuit filed Wednesday by 19 taxi companies against Uber Technologies. It seeks to hold the online ride-sharing provider liable for what the plaintiffs describe as deceptive advertising, since only their taxi drivers are required to undergo criminal background checks based on fingerprints, reports the Technology Now page of the Los AngelesTimes (sub. req.).

Advertising by Uber that the taxi companies object to in the suit includes claims that Uber offers “the safest rides on the road” and that Uber is “safer than a taxi.”

An Uber spokeswoman called the suit frivolous, cited Uber’s “unprecedented transparency,” and said cab companies would do well to focus on their own safety issues.

“This lawsuit was filed by an industry that for decades has ignored the safety of riders and drivers–and that in San Francisco, allows up to two drug or alcohol offenses for drivers and only looks back five years into a driver’s background, with limited recourse for complaints and wrongdoing,” Uber said in a written statement provided to the newspaper.

The suit is the latest in a slew of recent litigation challenging the manner in which Uber and other ride-sharing companies that do business via the Internet and smartphone applications operate.

Related coverage: “Family sues Uber over death of girl, 6, says smartphone app violates state distracted-driving law” “Three cities sue Uber, citing noncompliance with state laws and municipal regulations” “Are Lyft and Uber drivers employees? Juries will decide”

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