Looks like we are headed towards a jury trial soon.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore has denied Uber’s request for summary judgment and rejected parts of the company’s motion to dismiss.
“This court has found that the question of the literal falsity, or allegedly misleading nature, of Uber’s representations is a question of fact to be determined at trial,” the judge’s 53-page order filed on Dec. 18 said in explaining why she was rejecting the company’s efforts for summary judgment.
On the motion to dismiss, the judge said slogans such as “safest ride on the road” and “background checks you can trust” are general statements that can’t be measured and amount to “non-actionable puffery.” The same goes for a glowing 2014 online evaluation of Uber’s services from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a company safety consultant, who clarified that he was offering his opinion.
But, the court determined that some company representations amounted to “cognizable” claims under the federal Lanham Act, which covers false advertising and is named after the late Texas Congressman Fritz Lanham. Those included a 2014 blog entry by Uber’s head of communications for North America that Gilmore decided “was clearly intended to lead and could lead a reasonable consumer to believe that an Uber ride is objectively and measurable safer than a taxi ride.” The judge viewed company representations about the “Safe Rides Fee” as well as media statements about the superiority of Uber background checks over those required for taxi drivers in the same light.
Gilmore said the plaintiffs also can proceed on an unfair competition claim under Texas law.
See here for the background. I have no idea how this will go but I can’t wait to see how it gets resolved.