Pennsylvania Proposes $50M Fine Against Uber For Operating Without Approval

uberlogodogsUber’s tendency to begin operations now and ask for permission later seems to have backfired in a big way in Pennsylvania, with two judges for the state’s taxi and bus regulatory agency recommending a $50 million fine against the ride-hailing company for operating without first getting the proper state approval. 

The record fine, which is subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission, aims to hold Uber accountable for thousands of rides it provided during a six-month period in 2014 when the company lacked authorization to do so, the Associated Press reports.

The judges said in a written ruling that they disagreed with Uber’s argument that its actions were not serious as it provided needed transportation alternatives and because it’s a software company whose services aren’t necessarily available to the public at large.

Uber maintained that the broker license it held was adequate and that the commission’s investigation and enforcement arm did not prove any harm occurred.

The company obtained proper authorization and complied with the commission’s directives starting in August 2014.

However, the judges found that the company arranged a “large number” of trips before obtaining a two-year emergency authorization to operate by the state. Additionally, Uber drivers had at least nine accidents during that period that could lead to an insurance claim, a company official told the judges.

“Uber took a more active role in providing transportation service than simply providing the Uber app for people with cars to use to provide rides for people who need transportation — it was not a disinterested invisible entity in the background,” wrote judges Mary Long and Jeffrey Watson.

A spokesperson for Uber tells the AP that the company is disappointed in the recommendation and hopes to come to a “reasonable resolution.”

The proposed fine, which would be the largest ever imposed against Uber, includes $73,000 related to the ride-sharing service’s action during the investigation, such as failing to produce documents as required, and penalties for continuing to operate after being issued a cease-and-desist order by the commission.

“There is no question that Uber’s conduct in the litigation of this complaint has been obstructive,” the judges wrote in their recommendation.

Uber has 30 days to respond to the recommendation before it can be approved.

Pennsylvania judges propose record $50M fine against Uber [The Associated Press]

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