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PA Judge Rejects Ubers’ Pursuit of Binding Arbitration Where Passenger Injured In Uber Vehicle

Metzger Wickersham
PA Judge Rejects Ubers’ Pursuit of Binding Arbitration Where Passenger Injured In Uber Vehicle

Many of us have taken advantage of utilizing Uber vehicles when seeking an easy method of ride-sharing travel. Unbeknownst to most passengers, when a person downloads the Uber app, they potentially agree to certain things they may not be aware of by accepting the terms and agreements. Some of the agreements are of less concern, such as agreeing that the person is not a minor and the customer agrees to not use fraudulent methods of payment. However, one other provision in these agreements is that the person agrees to arbitrate all claims against Uber. This could include claims for injuries against an Uber driver who is alleged to have caused a crash where their passenger is injured.

Typically, when a passenger is injured and the driver of the vehicle is at fault, they can pursue a claim and would have a right to a jury trial. The case of Kemenosh v. Uber Technologies involved a passenger who was injured when an Uber driver allegedly ran a red light and was involved in a crash in Philadelphia. Uber attempted to enforce the binding arbitration clause contained within its app against a passenger who was injured in a vehicle driven by an Uber driver.

The passenger filed a lawsuit against Uber, and Uber objected stating that by agreeing to the terms after downloading the Uber app, the passenger had agreed to resolve all claims by way of binding arbitration. Uber argued to the court the passenger had forfeited her right to a jury trial by accepting the terms and conditions when she downloaded the Uber app.

The Judge ruled against Uber and found that Uber was not able to prove the passenger actually read the terms and conditions at any time before riding in the Uber involved in the crash. Therefore, she cannot be forced to give up her right to a jury trial and be forced to proceed to binding arbitration.

The court determined the Uber app makes it possible to utilize Uber’s services without clicking on a hyperlink to review the company’s terms and conditions. Since this was the case, the court found there was no proper communication of an offer to arbitrate under the law.

However, the Judge ultimately left open the possibility that an offer of binding arbitration could perhaps be valid if the passenger had been required to click on the hyperlink or confirmed that she had read the terms and conditions.

Source: Kemenosh v. Uber Technologies, No 181102703 (C.P. Phila. Co. Jan 3, 2020, Fletman, J.) and Torttalk.com

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