Uber is a start-up company based in San Francisco, California which has been the subject of many lawsuits with regard to its operations worldwide. The company, which bills itself as a technology service providing ride sharing capabilities connects people who need a ride with drivers willing to do so, streamlining the hailing and payment process. It has become widely popular since the company launched in 2009, and is now available in over sixty (60) countries (Farrell, 2014). Usually the issue is whether Uber operations represent an activity that breach regulations regarding taxis and cabs in various jurisdictions. In a recent lawsuit in California and Massachusetts it was the contractor model which was the cause of the claim, as the Uber drivers alleged that they were in fact misclassified employees (Farrell, 2014).
Uber drivers claimed that they were misclassified as independent contractors, and as such they should be compensated for driving expenses and unpaid overtime (McCormick, 2016). In the Uber driver model the drivers are contractors who pay their own gas, incur other mileage related expenses, and spend overtime hours in administrating their contract positions. Uber argues that if the drivers were to become employees the very flexibility which attracts them to the position would be lost, as they would have to drive according to a company set schedule for a fixed wage with restrictions on their ability to be employed by competitors (McCormick, 2016). It is unknown how many drivers are affected by the ruling (Farrell, 2014).
In March 2015 a federal district court denied a motion by Uber for summary judgment, and in December 2015 a final order certified the claim as a class action which was not subject to arbitration (Farrell, 2014). The lawsuit was set to go to trial in June 2016. An agreement was reached, however, in early April which would allow Uber to continue with the current classification of drivers as contractors; however several concessions were made to meet demands made by Uber drivers (McCormick, 2016).
The matter was settled with Uber to provide a negotiated $100 million settlement to the estimated 385,000 drivers in Massachusetts and California, along with several other requirements such as that Uber stop communicating to customers that tips are included, as drivers do not receive gratuities for their services (McCormick, 2016). The arbitration clause in the current driver contract was also not found to be a valid provision of the agreement (McCormick, 2016). A national lawsuit has recently been filed with regard to the same claims as those settled in the lawsuit, and it remains to be seen whether the same conclusion will be reached at the federal level of jurisdiction (McCormick, 2016).
Consumer Action against Sony PlayStation 3
Sony is a large company based in Japan with a long history as a global market leader in electronics. It has been a leader in game consoles, with particular competition with Nintendo. The PlayStation 3 (or PS3) has been one of their most popular models. Recently, a six year long legal suit was finally resolved in favor of the PS3 users who lost the capacity to run the PlayStation with Linux based systems. The lawsuit alleged that this firmware updated in effect was a breach of Unfair Competition Law in California.
Sony is the defendant against this class action suit brought on behalf of PS3 owners (Thier, 2016). The claim argued that Firmware Update 3.21 which was issued in April 2010 removed the Linux operating system functionality, even though this was one of the advertised features of the product indicated by the phrase “other OS”.
Sony was in agreement that the firmware update removed this functionality, however it argued that this feature was not a critical one to most users, and there was no requirement to install the update in question (Thier, 2016). Further, they saw the removal of this function as necessary in order to protect its intellectual property (Coren, 2014). It is likely that this functionality was removed as it facilitated piracy of PS3 game software (Thier, 2016). PS3 owners responded that without the update it was not possible to use the PlayStation Network, making the update a mandatory installation which removed essential desired functionality (Coren, 2014).
The case was initially dismissed with prejudice in 2011 due to a finding of no liability to users with regard to the update and the marketing claims of the product. While no new evidence could be introduced on the basis of the dismissal of the case with prejudice, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this finding based on the existing evidence submitted in 2014 at the cause of finding there were sufficient facts to indicate consumer deception (Coren, 2014).
Sony is required to compensate PS3 owners who can attest that they had installed Linux and are able to show proof of purchase and use of PlayStation Network with fifty five dollars ($55), or nine dollars for owners of the PS3 that carried the specific feature of operating on other operating systems who attest that they wanted and used the “other OS” functionality which was lost due to the firmware update (Thier, 2016). There are potentially 10 million claims based on sales data regarding the PS3; however the eligibility criteria will likely limit the receipt of the claim settlement to far fewer users as Linux was not widely used and many PS3 owners and former owners may not even be aware of the lawsuit or its resolution (Thier, 2016).