By Andrew Denney In a ruling that advocates say could open Uber Technologies Inc. up to additional litigation over providing service to disabled people, a New York state court judge in Brooklyn found that the ride-sharing company’s arbitration clause was too ambiguous to move a disabled woman’s suit against the company into arbitration (http://nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_28162.htm). Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Francois Rivera found that plaintiff Elizabeth Ramos, who lives in the Starrett City section of Brooklyn and who uses a wheelchair, did not unequivocally agree to the arbitration clause and that Uber’s motion to compel arbitration “improperly depends upon implication or subtlety in the interpretation of its ambiguous registration process.” Uber does not require drivers to use accessible vehicles and provides a separate app, UberWAV, that is available in New York City and is intended to connect disabled riders to wheelchair-accessible vehicles through third-party fleets such as taxicabs. In 2014, the Taxi & Limousine Commission agreed to a settlement in a federal class action suit to increase the number of accessible vehicles in its fleet to 50 percent by 2020, but Uber is not beholden to this requirement. Ramos alleges in her suit, in which she alleges violations of New York state and New York City human rights laws, that on July 20, 2016, she tried getting a ride via UberWAV, but after an hour and three separate attempts to summon a car, one never showed. Uber moved to move the case to arbitration, arguing that, when Ramos registered an Uber account on her phone in 2015, she accepted Uber’s terms and conditions, which included an agreement to arbitrate legal disputes. The company submitted testimony from an employee who explained that its terms and services can be found [...]
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