October 19, 2021

Uber’s exposure topped $850 million in driver suit

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Uber headquarters, located at 1455 Market St (btwn 10th St & 11th St), San Francisco, CA 94103, United States

Uber headquarters, located at 1455 Market St (btwn 10th St & 11th St), San Francisco, CA 94103, United States

By Ben Hancock, From The Recorder

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber Technologies Inc. could have been on the hook for as much as $852 million in damages if a California jury had concluded that the company misclassified its drivers as independent contractors, new court filings show.
That estimate, more than 10 times what drivers in California and Massachusetts will recover as part of an $84 million settlement announced last month, is based on a series of best-case-scenario predictions for the drivers and assumes that they would prevail on all of their claims for car and phone-related expense reimbursement, as well as tips.
Calculations reflecting the value of drivers’ claims had been withheld from the initial settlement proposal submitted on April 22. In her updated filing, lead plaintiffs lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan makes clear that there is wide variability in the estimates and that plaintiffs faced substantial risks in going forward with a trial.
For example, a jury could have applied the Internal Revenue Service’s variable reimbursement rate for mileage rather than the fixed rate, which would have reduced the potential recovery to $429 million.The settlement, which could increase to $100 million if Uber hits certain financial milestones, also benefits drivers who were excluded from the California class action.
Still, the figures are being made public as Liss-Riordan has come under fire from drivers and other plaintiffs lawyers involved in litigation against Uber for accepting what they criticize as a low-ball settlement that fails to resolve the underlying contractor-employee debate.
In a statement to reporters, Liss-Riordan characterized the settlement as an “outstanding result,” citing the many risks the case faced relating to class certification and other issues.
According to the filing, Uber could have been found to owe drivers in California and Massachusetts as much as $700 million for car-related expenses, $30 million for phone expenses, and a further $122 million for tips.
Considering all the factors, however, Liss-Riordan predicted that recovery would more likely range from $346 million to $682 million if her side prevailed at trial. That puts the settlement at between 12 to 24 percent.
The proposed settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in the Northern District of California.

IMAGE: Uber headquarters in San Francisco Jason Doiy

For more on this story go to: http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202757204829/Ubers-Exposure-Topped-850-Million-in-Driver-Suit#ixzz48GJZ9Iay

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