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Varon v. UBER Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 3, 2016

ELIZABETH VARON, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff
v.
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and RAISER, LLC Defendants

MEMORANDUM RE: ARBITRATION

Marvin J. Garbis, United States District Judge

The Court has before it Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, to Compel Individual Arbitration, and to Strike Class Allegations [ECF No. 12] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court has reviewed the exhibits and considered the materials submitted by the parties. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Procedural Background

In this putative class action, Plaintiff Elizabeth Varon (“Varon”) sues Defendants Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) and a subsidiary, Rasier, LLC[1] (“Rasier”). On September 22, 2015, Varon, an Uber driver, filed suit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County asserting claims set forth in seven Counts:

. Count I - Tortious Interference with Contract & Business Relations (relating to gratuities);
. Count II - Breach of Contract (relating to gratuities not paid to drivers);
. Count III - Unjust Enrichment (relating to gratuities not paid to drivers);
. Count IV - Conversion (relating to gratuities not paid and driving expenses not reimbursed);
. Count V - Unfair Competition (relating to misappropriation of gratuities and driving expenses);
. Count VI - Fraud and/or Intentional or Negligent Misrepresentation (relating to gratuities, cancellation fees, and discounted gas cards);
. Count VII - Violations of Maryland Labor Law (relating to Uber’s treating drivers as employees but not paying them as employees).

Defendants removed the case to this Court on November 30, 2015 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. On December 7, 2015, Defendants filed the instant motion. While the motion was pending, a plaintiff in a similar case sought to have the instant case, and 6 others, joined in a Multidistrict proceeding. On February 3, 2016, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejected the effort. Order Denying Transfer, ECF No. 19.

The Court herein addresses the instant motion.

B. Factual Setting

At all times relevant hereto, Rasier offered a smartphone application (“the Uber App”) that connects riders looking for transportation to transportation providers (“Drivers”) who are looking for riders. The app also provides the opportunity to become an Uber driver. On or about April 8, 2015, Varon used the Uber App to sign up to become an Uber driver. Varon’s account as an Uber driver was activated on June 13, 2015. On June 18, 2015, she accepted - through the Uber App - the November 10, 2014 Rasier Software License and Online Services Agreement (“the Rasier Agreement”).

The Rasier Agreement contains an arbitration clause (“the Arbitration Provision”). Briefly stated, [2] the Arbitration Provision applies to “any disputes arising out of or related to [the Rasier Agreement].” Decl. Ex. C at 26, § 15.3, ECF No. 12.2.

The provision states:

Except as it otherwise provides, this Arbitration Provision is intended to apply to the resolution of disputes that otherwise would be resolved in a court of law or before a forum other than arbitration. This Arbitration Provision requires all such disputes to be resolved only by an arbitrator through final and binding arbitration on an Individual basis only and not by way of court or jury trial, or by way of class, collective, or representative action.

Id. at 25.

The Arbitration Provision further states:

IMPORTANT: This arbitration provision will require you to resolve any claim that you may have against the Company or Uber on an individual basis pursuant to the terms of the Agreement unless you choose to opt out of the arbitration provision. This provision will preclude you from bringing any class, collective, or representative action against the Company or Uber. It also precludes you from participating in or recovering relief under any current or future class, collective, or representative action brought against the Company or Uber by someone else.

Id. at 24.

In addition, the Arbitration Provision delegates to the arbitrator, any dispute regarding the scope of issues subject to arbitration, stating in this regard:

[Disputes within the scope of the agreement] include without limitation disputes arising out of or relating to interpretation or application of this Arbitration Provision, including the enforceability, revocability or validity of the Arbitration Provision or any portion of the Arbitration Provision. ...

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