Now Uber sued for textual harassment

Plus: Waymo? Way no! Levandowski swerves doc demand in trade secrets trial

Taxi app turned lawsuit magnet Uber last week was sued by Donna Giacomaro, a resident of Levittown, New York, for text message harassment, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and New York state law.

The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York, alleges that Uber last month began sending Giacomaro text messages that she never consented to receive.

The court filing claims Uber's need to grow its customer database has made it disinclined to maintain an accurate list of Uber customers.

"Because Defendant's income is dependent on the number of consumers registering as customers of Defendant, Defendant's customer enrollment process does not include procedures necessary to confirm the accuracy of the information Defendant receives from potential customers, including their phone numbers," the complaint says.

The complaint does not specifically address whether or not Giacomaro ever downloaded the Uber app and consented to its terms of service, which grant Uber permission to communicate via voice calls and text messages, automated or otherwise.

It states only that Giacomaro never signed anything regarding Uber solicitations and never agreed to received Uber texts.

Giacomaro allegedly received four unwanted text messages from Uber. Each such violation, the complaint says, should cost Uber at least $500 under the TCPA, or three times that if the court determines Uber knew or should have known there was no consent.

Edward B Geller, the attorney representing Giacomaro, is seeking to have the case certified as a class action. If granted, the potential cost to Uber would multiply.

Reached by phone, Geller said pressing legal work prevented him from taking time to discuss the case.

In 2017 so far, according to the US government's Pacer database, 39 civil lawsuits have been filed against Uber, compared to four lawsuits filed this year against Lyft, Uber's main rival in the US.

Uber's legal engagements follow from the no-holds-barred attitude of its co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, who stepped down last month following family tragedy and a damning report on the company's toxic culture.

Uber did not respond to a request for comment.

Waymo suit

In other Uber-oriented litigation, the judge hearing self-driving car developer Waymo's trade secrets lawsuit against the taxi app service on Wednesday denied a Waymo motion to compel Anthony Levandowski to reveal documents.

Levandowski previously ran Google's autonomous vehicle project (before it got spun out to Waymo) and left to run Ottomoto, a self-driving truck startup that Uber acquired last year. Waymo sued Uber earlier this year for theft of trade secrets, alleging that Levandowski stole some 14,000 of its documents.

In April, Waymo served Levandowski with a subpoena to produce documents supposedly taken from the company while Levandowski was employed there. Levandowski produced some documents and provided other details to the judge, but declined to give Waymo everything requested. Waymo asked the judge to compel the production of additional material but the judge on Wednesday said Levandowski could assert his rights under the Fifth Amendment and refuse.

The trial is scheduled for October. ®


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