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Economy

San Diego Cab Company Joins Lawsuit Against Uber

San Diego Cab Company Joins Lawsuit Against Uber
San Diego Yellow Cab has joined 19 other California cab companies in suing Uber for false advertising.

San Diego Yellow Cab has joined 19 other California cab companies in suing Uber for false advertising.

At the center of the complaint is a campaign calling Uber vehicles the "Safest Rides on the Road." Cab companies say that's a misrepresentation of facts that's hurting the taxi industry's reputation and costing it money.

L.A. Taxi Cooperative vs. Uber Technologies
A complaint filed against Uber in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco March 18, 2015.
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Ben Shiftan of San Francisco law firm Pearson, Simon & Warshaw is one of the attorneys representing the cab companies. He said his clients are losing revenue because Uber is essentially telling their customers that taxi safety is subpar.

"What the case is really trying to do is just level the playing field," Shiftan said. "If Uber wants to compete with the taxi industry, they're welcome to do so, but they need to do so fairly and without making misrepresentations to consumers."

A Yellow Cab representative could not be reached for comment.

Taxi drivers have to get Livescan background checks using fingerprints before they can pick up customers. It's certified by the U.S. Department of Justice and is what schools and hospitals use when they're hiring people.

Uber uses the company Hirease. It combs through county and federal court records, a multi-state criminal database, a sex offender registry and driving records. On its website, Uber calls its background checks "often more rigorous than what is required to become a taxi driver" and says it "has set a new standard." The cab companies dispute that.

In a statement from spokeswoman Eva Behrend, Uber called the lawsuit frivolous.

"This frivolous lawsuit is simply without merit. As riders across the country know, Uber's multi-layered driver screening includes county, federal and multi-state checks and the rating system and traceability of the Uber platform gives riders and drivers unprecedented transparency. This lawsuit was filed by an industry that for decades has ignored the safety of riders and drivers – and that in San Francisco, allows up to two drug or alcohol offenses for drivers and only looks back 5 years into a driver's background, with limited recourse for complaints and wrongdoings."

Uber said its mobile app gives consumers an extra layer of security because it lets them rate their drivers, see who's picking them up, and creates an electronic record of the trip.

The cab companies are seeking an injunction against Uber's safety advertising and monetary damages.

It's not yet known if the case will go to trial, but a similar complaint from the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys is moving through the courts.