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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Federal judge pares Lyft driver's privacy suit over Uber’s alleged driver tracking program

By Amanda Thomas | May 8, 2018

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SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) – A class action lawsuit brought by a Lyft Inc. driver against Uber Technologies Inc. regarding Uber’s alleged “Hell” tracking program is moving forward.

In an April 18 ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the Northern District of California dismissed most of the suit after Uber filed to dismiss, but is allowing Lyft driver Michael Gonzales to file an amended complaint that addresses alleged income losses resulting from unfair competition.

The suit, brought by Gonzales on behalf of other Lyft drivers in April 2017, alleges Uber wrongfully intercepted the communications and locations of Lyft drivers, which led to reduced income. 

Between 2014 and 2016, Uber allegedly used a software program called Hell to track Lyft drivers to see how many were available to give rides and what their prices were, the opinion states. The program could also allegedly determine if people were driving for both companies.

Corley dismissed complaints related to the Federal Wiretap Act, Federal Stored Communications Act and the California Invasion Privacy Act. She also dismissed his claim that Uber violated the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act. While Corley dismissed the majority of Gonzales’ claims, he can file an amended complaint to address his Unfair Competition Law claim. 

Gonzales claims Lyft drivers have experienced decreased earnings because Uber is encouraging drivers to use its platform exclusively. He argues that this reduces the supply of Lyft drivers and increases wait times.

Gonzales alleged that “the longer wait time would cause a passenger to cancel the Lyft request and request a new ride from Uber,” the opinion said. “These factual allegations, which the court must accept as true, are sufficient to satisfy the lost money or property requirement of UCL standing.” 

Corley found Gonzales successfully alleged that he had lost revenue because of Uber’s Hell program. 

Gonzales is represented by attorneys Caleb Marker and Hannah P. Belknap of Zimmerman Reed LLP in Manhattan Beach, California, and by Mark Burton and Michael McShane of Audet & Partners LLP in San Francisco.

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Organizations in this Story

LyftU.S. District Court for the Northern District of CaliforniaUber