Named Plaintiff In Uber Class Action Objects To $100M Settlement

Image courtesy of afagen

What you often see referred to in the news as “the Uber class action lawsuit” has a name: it’s called O’Connor et al v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al. However, now that there’s a proposed settlement in the case, Douglas O’Connor, the first named plaintiff, filed a declaration in court that he objects to the proposed settlement and has hired new lawyers.

The lawsuit was originally filed back in 2013, alleging that the company’s drivers were employees who had been misclassified as independent contractors, and that the company owed them vehicle expenses and the right to ask for tips. The proposed settlement is $100 million, maxing out at $116 million if the company increases significantly in value or offers stock to the public before then.

Douglas O’Connor, that first named plaintiff, filed a declaration saying that he was firing the attorneys who originally filed the suit, explaining that the lawsuit had originally given drivers –– even those who didn’t live in California and who weren’t part of the class action –– hope that their situation might change. Drivers who had been watching the suit, O’Connor writes, “now feel utterly betrayed and sold-out by an unjust settlement result that only benefits Uber.”

While the lawsuit would lead to cash payouts to drivers who are part of the class, those payouts will likely be very small when compared to drivers’ actual vehicle and fuel expenses during the covered period, as well as the tips they missed out on.

The company’s own calculations show that the company would owe drivers $429 million if they had been employees. The attorneys who filed the class action estimate that they’d be owed $730 million in expenses, and another $122 million in tips that they didn’t receive since the service tells passengers that there’s “no need to tip.”

While O’Connor’s name is on the lawsuit, he wasn’t officially certified as the lead plaintiff, and says that he never would have agreed to the $100 million settlement. “I would have strongly objected to the terms and methodology used for computing damages,” he wrote in the declaration. He objected to the damages, but also to the time limit on the concessions that Uber made to drivers. “This proposed settlement agreement is not in my interest or in the interest of any Uber driver,” he concluded.

His new lawyers are part of a team attempting to have the original attorneys removed from the case and replaced. The judge may take this declaration into account when deciding whether to approve the settlement.

DECLARATION OF DOUGLAS O’CONNOR OBJECTING TO PROPOSED O’CONNOR CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT [PDF] (via Reuters)