Online taxi booking service Uber has asked a US district court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Delhi rape victim for negligence & fraud in January this year, reports Reuters. Why you ask? Well, Uber believes it should not be held legally responsible for its driver’s act. The report mentions that in its filing to the court, the company stated that:
While Plaintiff undoubtedly can state a claim against her alleged assailant, she cannot state a claim against Uber US, which is the wrong party. Nor does California law govern a dispute involving an alleged wrong committed by one Indian citizen against another Indian citizen, in India.
According to the company, the driver was contracted with its Netherlands-based entity Uber B.V, which doesn’t operate in US and so has no relationship with Uber US. It’s worth noting that the rape charges against a Uber Chicago driver were dropped earlier this week, after new evidence was presented to the court.
Legally Uber seems to be on safe ground, however as we have pointed out earlier there is a need for better understanding of the responsibility, accountability and liability of platforms, marketplaces and aggregators. There’s no doubt that online aggregators and marketplaces, including Uber, are good for consumers and competition. But then who is accountable, when things get screwed up? And what about the liability of these platforms? More on this here.
i like the bit where uber so adamantly claim (every day) they’re accountable for no one and to no one, defying logic http://t.co/w1LHq95HMr
— Benjamin James (@chazwazza_) April 7, 2015
The victim had hired New York-based litigator Douglas Wigdor and had filed the lawsuit in US because the company’s driver screening and passenger safety policies were formulated in the US. In the lawsuit, Wigdor had apparently said that Uber’s focus on its bottom line over the safety of its passengers had led to what he described as “modern day electronic hitchhiking”, and hoped that the lawsuit would bring about changes that would protect people globally who are unaware of the risks of entering an Uber car.
The Delhi transport department had banned Uber in December last year, and had later brought them under the radio taxi license. Uber had resumed operations in Delhi in January, after applying for a radio taxi license, however it’s yet to actually receive the license. The Delhi government now wants the Center to block the online taxi booking apps of both Uber and Ola in the city, till their radio taxi licenses are processed and cleared.