Uber’s court clashes with the taxi industry are small potatoes compared to the fight with drivers.
Car-hire service Uber, which is embroiled in legal fights across the country, won a significant victory in court this week against a gang of taxi companies that want to drive it out of Connecticut. The ruling certainly helps Uber legitimize its business model, but doesn’t resolve the biggest legal question hanging over the company.
In the Connecticut ruling (see below), issued on Thursday, a federal judge threw out the taxi companies’ case, which accused Uber of unlawful tactics against taxi industry competitors and of deceiving consumers. The complaint featured a laundry list of legal claims, including racketeering, fraud, unfair competition and trademark infringement.
But at the end of the day, U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson didn’t buy any of it. He disagreed with the theory that Uber falsely told consumers it was part of the taxi industry, and that Uber deceived consumers over its insurance and fare policies.
The judge pointed to a 1996 ruling called “Dial-a-Car” in which a Washington D.C. appeals court found that a luxury car service could not use its own interpretation of the taxi laws as the basis for a false advertising claim. He also pointed out that Connecticut officals have not even decided how state taxi regulations should apply to Uber.
Uber spokesman Matthew Wing said the decision lets Connecticut drivers and passengers keep receiving the “economic and transportation benefits” that the company provides.
Lawyers for the taxi and limousine companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Thompson said the plaintiffs may file an amended lawsuit if they wish.
The lawsuit is similar to many filed in the United States against San Francisco-based Uber, which lets customers summon vehicles through a smartphone application.
In their complaint, which also sought damages, the Connecticut companies said Uber succeeds because it can “prey parasitically on established taxicab and livery services” by cutting corners and ignoring laws meant to protect passengers.
Lyft Inc, another ride-sharing service, was originally also a defendant, but was dismissed from the case in February.