Uber, Lyft and other TNCs (Transportation Network Companies) are part of the largest, most extensive and diverse criminal enterprise this country has ever seen. Having this network’s activities exposed in open court would not only disclose their collusion with countless other companies, but could mean the end of their operations in your State – and possibly beyond. Or it could lead to regulations that would kill their business model and crush their profits. Facing someone with my knowledge, these companies would NEVER proceed to trial: Their practices would be exposed even if they won. The principal challenge is to control your client(s) – and stop them from grabbing the initial, tantalizing, low-hanging fruit dangled in front of them.
Many private companies providing public transportation cannot risk going to trial. The evidence and testimony would reveal practices that would get their contracts terminated – and discourage surrounding states’ institutions from engaging them. (See “Commercial Agendas”). Such defendants are drowning in negligence and reckless disregard. Many obtain obscene profits through corrupt business practices, extraordinary waste, and the exploitation of subcontractors forced to pay drivers starvation wages — and forced to commit endless safety compromises to provide the service even sloppily on time (visit “Safety Compromises”). Regulatory agencies have been helpless in curtailing these abuses.
But TNCs, dominated by Uber and Lyft, are much worse. And much more vulnerable to lawsuits. A disproportionate percentage of their drivers’ incidents are fatigue-related, as incentives induce many to operate to the point of exhaustion. Like all other transportation services, TNCs involve vehicles, drivers, passengers and trips-for-compensation. Yet they hide behind preposterous claims that they are simply a “business” or a “match-making” service, that their drivers are independent contractors, and that they are not common carriers – mythologies I have blown away in lawsuits involving other modes for decades. In some states, drivers are not only free to operate literally around-the-clock, but the TNCs literally boast about this latitude in their driver recruitment campaigns. Further, these TNCs employ ruse after ruse to limit their drivers’ insurance coverage.
Yet the incidents invoking these lawsuits only scratch the surface. These companies’ principal activities involve collecting and selling personal information. In unconscionable contracts, drivers are forced to grant these defendants the rights to pirate this information not only from their passengers, but from every person in every one of their passengers’ social media networks. And these defendants have the gall to require their drivers to ensure that all this stolen information is accurate. And when it is not, the drivers are forced to indemnify the defendants from any consequences of it – effectively shifting the liability from the companies who largely control them to drivers whom they claim are not even employees. The scope and diversity of this criminal enterprise is so vast that, by comparison, it makes activities in organizations like the Mafia resemble fraternity hazing.
My involvement in cases against these defendants has recently ballooned. All settle handsomely — even when the drivers are not at fault. So I cannot share any case-related documents from one case to the next. But no matter: Many of the most important documents are obtainable from any Uber, Lyft or other TNC driver. Others are obtainable through FOIA requests. Only the specifics of each new case must be obtained and examined – many tweaked from venue to venue in response to the plaintiff’s allegations and a particular state’s or municipality’s regulations. A savvy, patient plaintiff’s attorney who conducts the case in an intelligible sequence, and collects the evidence quickly, has a much better chance of “controlling the client” before the defendants can dangle a small bounty of money in front of him or her. As a result, “controlling your client” is the key to greatly expanding these riches. The cases are unlosable. But poor judgment can leave most of the money “on the table.”