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Florida Uber Drivers lawsuits

June 1, 2017
On May 30, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) dealt a second blow to a group of Florida drivers who had hoped to consolidate their cases against ride-hailing giant Uber. The JPML refused the combine three separate but related lawsuits, arguing that voluntary coordination is a better option for these cases than centralization.

The central claim of the plaintiffs was that Uber improperly classified drivers as independent contractors – rather than as employees – so that the company could unfairly reimburse the drivers for expenses and deny them the full amounts of some of the tips given by passengers to drivers.

The plaintiffs had wished to centralize putative class suits in Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee by drivers who chose not to participate in arbitration agreements with Uber. In February 2016, the JPML denied a previous centralization motion for similar reasons: that the cases involved too many state-specific issues, and that the cases have individually reached several different procedural stages.

The JPML rejected the Florida plaintiffs’ suggestion that the panel eliminate state-specific issues by separating them from a centralized MDL and remanding them to state courts. The panel said this approach would “result in the proliferation of duplicative litigation.”

Last year, the JPML rejected a centralization request that involved a total of 17 suits. Its reasoning was that state laws vary too widely on the subject of whether independent contractors are considered employees. That single issue – whether independent contractors may legally be considered as employees – is a question that Uber and other ride-hailing companies have been tangling with for years now.

The Florida plaintiffs are not subject to the arbitration clause that Uber has fought and continues to fight in a number of courts – largely with success. A small percentage of drivers took advantage of the 30-day opt-out period in the arbitration provisions of Uber’s driver contracts.

The attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are well acquainted with the legal complexities involving ride-hailing companies, especially those involving accidents and personal injury.

If you believe you have a legal complaint against a ride-hailing company, contact us. The consultation is free, and our expert ride-hailing attorneys will help you any way they can.

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