Monday, May 9, 2016

Case against Uber based on alleged sexual assault by driver can go forward; Court rejects motion to dismiss based on allegation that the driver was independent contractor

The ABA Journal is reporting today that a San Francisco federal judge has denied Uber’s motion to dismiss cases based on sexual assaults committed by Uber drivers.  Uber's argument was based on the allegation that the drivers in question were independent contractors.

Obviously, if it is true that the drivers are independent contractors, the claims based on vicarious liability will be dismissed eventually.  But the judge thought it is too early to tell.  The question of the relationship between Uber and its drivers is being litigated elsewhere.  There are at least two pending class actions against Uber, regarding whether drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors.

So the claims based on vicarious liability are still in play.  In addition, the plaintiffs have alleged claims based on direct liability based on negligence in hiring.  Those claims would not be affected if it is ultimately decided that the drivers are independent contractors.

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