BOSTON — In a sweeping nine-count lawsuit filed by Boston's taxi industry, San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. is accused of operating a car-for-hire service that violates state and city laws and deceives consumers about fees, drivers, safety and insurance.
The 35-page suit filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court claims Uber ignores laws and regulations developed over decades designed to protect consumers, ensure public safety, safeguard competition and provide non-discriminatory services.
“Uber pays none of the substantial capital costs and expenses required to operate a legal taxi and livery car business in Boston,” said attorney Sam Perkins, of Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten, who filed the suit on behalf of clients Boston Cab Dispatch Inc., and EJT Management, two of Boston's largest cab companies. “It uses a dispatch system that is not approved, ignores regulations that are essential to public safety and uses a payment system that illegally overcharges customers.”
Among the industry's complaints are that Uber:
- Does not have a regular program of inspecting, licensing and insuring vehicles as required by regulations;
- Enlists drivers who have not met proper license requirements;
- Forces consumers to waive their rights to hold Uber accountable for dangerous, offensive, harmful, or unsafe behavior by its drivers;
- Ignores laws designed to protect consumers with disabilities;
- Does not equip its cars with essential safety protections as required;
- Says it is a car service in order to buy less expensive vehicle insurance;
- Claims it conducts business outside Boston where insurance rates are lower, and deceives consumers by falsely representing that drivers and vehicles are properly insured.
The lawsuit contends Uber's business plan — which includes introducing a new low-cost service called UberX — will put Boston travelers at risk, forcing them to accept wildly fluctuating “surge pricing,” uninspected cars, unqualified drivers and anonymous car owners.
“You can't simply go into business as a cab company and ignore decades of rules and regulations,” said Oleg Uritsky, a Boston fleet owner. “The regulations exist for a reason and Uber is exploiting loopholes for its own benefit.”
The suit asks the court to award the plaintiffs profits from all fares collected by Uber as well as monetary and punitive damages which could total in the tens of millions of dollars under consumer protection laws and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
DBMediaStrategies Inc. represents fleet owners in Boston.
Source: DBMediaStrategies Inc., distributed by PR Newswire