Plaintiffs: Uber didn't require fingerprints from drivers, so it wasn't top-notch
by Cyrus Farivar - Feb 12, 2016 4:30am CST
Uber has agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit originally filed in late December 2014 by six men who argued that the startup’s claim of running "industry-leading background checks" was false and misleading. Passengers paid a "safe ride fee," usually $1 to $2 on top of each fare, as a way to offset those costs.
Under the terms of the deal, which was filed on Thursday, Uber will now rename this charge as a “booking fee” and will alter its language accordingly. The settlement also states that Uber and its subsidiary “expressly deny the allegations” and admit no wrongdoing.
Specifically, the consolidated complaint, which combined other similar lawsuits, alleged:
Despite its statements, Uber does not and has never provided an "industry-leading background check process." To the contrary, the background check process used by Uber does not use fingerprint identification and therefore cannot ensure that the information obtained from a background check actually pertains to the driver that submitted the information. By contrast, taxi regulators in the most populous parts of the United States require drivers to undergo criminal background checks using fingerprint identification, usually employing a technology called "Live Scan." Requiring fingerprints for background checks ensures that the person whose criminal history has been run is, in fact, the applicant – and is the industry leading background check process.
Presuming that the federal judge in San Francisco approves the deal, passengers who used Uber in the US between January 1, 2013, and January 31, 2016 are eligible to receive a portion of the settlement. If that pot is divided evenly amongst Uber's 25 million passengers, even after attorneys’ fees, each passenger will receive only around $1.
"We are glad to put these cases behind us and we will continue to invest in new technology and great customer services so that we can help improve safety in the cities we serve," Uber said in a statement on Thursday.