IN BRIEF - DAMAGES CLAIM AGAINST UBER REJECTED BY
DISTRICT COURT OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
A Perth-based Uber driver has failed in his attempt to sue
Silicon Valley-based giant Uber and Dutch-based holding company
Rasier Operations. However, the case serves as a reminder for
businesses to manage safety and reputational risks by including
robust termination provisions in their independent contractor
UBER DRIVER'S CONTRACT TERMINATED FOLLOWING
PASSENGERS' SAFETY COMPLAINTS
Mike Oze-Igiehon (Uber driver), who alleged the billion-dollar
global ride sharing service Uber breached its contract with him by
unlawfully deactivating his account, has lost his $500,000 damages
The Uber driver was registered with the Uber platform from May
2015 until November 2015. He initially maintained a high rating
with the ride sharing service earning up to $10,000 a month.
But the Uber driver's contract with the service platform was
terminated after multiple negative complaints were made against
him. Users claimed he was "over the speed limit...on multiple
occasions" and was "either falling asleep or drunk"
as he would "cross the centre-lines on the freeway".
Uber proceeded to terminate the Uber driver's contract under
the terms and conditions of their agreement. The agreement provided
that if a driver conducts themselves in such a way that a critical
safety issue or critical issue relevant to the brand and reputation
of Uber has been committed by a driver, then that would be seen to
be a material breach of the driver's agreement with Uber.
UBER SUED FOR DAMAGES FOR ECONOMIC LOSS AND SEVERE
The Uber driver claimed Uber was negligent for not sharing its
concerns as to the nature of user passenger complaints made about
him until after his contract was terminated. He sued Uber for
damages for economic loss and severe mental depression that he
claimed was caused by the deactivation.
Uber claimed the Uber driver's unsafe conduct in driving
while fatigued affected Uber's reputation and placed the Uber
driver, his passengers and members of the public at risk and that
this amounted to a material breach of their agreement.
UBER ACTED REASONABLY AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH TERMS OF
AGREEMENT, COURT FINDS
The District Court of Western Australia rejected the Uber
driver's $500,000 claim for damages. The Court found
"having received complaints about the quality of [the Uber
driver's] driving, [Uber] acted reasonably" when it
deactivated the Uber driver's account.
Uber was not required to prove that each complaint received was
truthful and accurate, but was required to deal with the
complainant reasonably, consistent and in accordance with the terms
of the agreement.
Uber's receipt of a second complaint from a different
passenger relating to a different time period but about the same
issue, was the impetus for deactivation of the Uber driver's
CONSIDER TERMINATION PROVISIONS IN INDEPENDENT
The case demonstrates the importance of having robust provisions
in independent contractor agreements that provide a business with
the ability to terminate agreements if the contractor's actions
create safety risks. Ultimately, this provides the business with a
tool to protect its reputation.
Our forensic practice conducts many investigations on many topics, but one recurring theme is the abuse of procurement.
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