United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
PAUL O'HANLON, an individual, JONATHAN ROBISON, an individual, GAYLE LEWANDOWSKI, an individual, IRMA ALLEN, an individual, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, and PITTSBURGHERS FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT, Plaintiffs,
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., RASIER, LLC, and RASIER-CA, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
COMPEL ARBITRATION ECF NO. 24
PUPO LENIHAN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
reasons set forth below, the August 23, 2019 Motion to Compel
Arbitration filed by Defendants Uber Technologies, Inc.;
Rasier, LLC; and Rasier-CA, LLC (collectively
“Uber”), ECF No. 24, will be denied.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
above-named Plaintiffs (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) filed a June 11, 2019 Complaint,
ECF No. 1, followed by a July 12, 2019 First Amended
Complaint, ECF No. 10, seeking class certification
and injunctive and declaratory relief. Plaintiffs are
Pennsylvania residents and a non-profit corporation
headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Defendants are
Delaware corporations. Uber provides a ridesharing service
which allows mobile smartphone application
(“App”) users to call an available vehicle driver
when they need transportation.
- like other plaintiffs in similar actions filed in Federal
District Courts against Uber or Lyft, Inc., another
ridesharing transportation company - allege that Defendants
are in violation of Title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq.,
(the “ADA”). Plaintiffs allege Defendants'
violation of both (1) Section 12182's prohibitions of
disability discrimination with regard to places of public
accommodation and (2) Section 12184's prohibitions with
regard to public transportation services provided by private
entities. More specifically, Plaintiffs allege that
individuals such as themselves, who rely on wheelchairs for
mobility and thus also wheelchair accessible vehicles
(“WAVs”) for transportation, are injured by
Defendants' failure to provide any access to its
on-demand ridesharing transportation service to disabled
individuals requiring WAVs in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
ECF No. 10; Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition,
ECF No. 35 at 1.
allegations include that:
Because the geographic area serviced by accessible public
transportation in Pittsburgh is contracting, at the same time
that Uber and similar ride sharing services are capturing
market share from traditional taxi companies, Uber's
discriminatory practices have a profound negative impact upon
individuals with mobility disabilities in Pittsburgh . . .
. . . Uber has the ability to provide accessible service
without significant disruption to its business model. Uber
tightly controls all aspects of how both its drivers and
riders use the service, mediating all payments, regulating
the types of vehicles the drivers use, and offering financial
incentives to ensure that there are enough drivers on the
road to meet the demand for rides. Moreover, Uber is already
providing widespread wheelchair accessible transportation in
London and six other cities around the United Kingdom.
ECF No. 10 at 2.
further allege that each individual Plaintiff (1) would use
Uber but for the unavailability of WAVs and (2) has not
downloaded Uber's application because s/he knows that
doing so would be futile while WAVs are unavailable through
Uber in Pittsburgh.
signing up for Uber's services must download and create
an account using the Uber Rider App (“Uber App”).
The terms and conditions required to be accepted to use the
provision. Defendants do not dispute that no named Plaintiff
has created an account or entered into a service agreement
with Uber. Defendants filed their Motion to Compel
Arbitration and Memorandum of Points and Authorities
(“Brief in Support”), ECF No. 24 and 25
respectively, on August 23, 2019; Plaintiffs filed their
Repose in Opposition, ECF No. 35, on September
30th; and Defendants filed their Reply in Further
Support, ECF No. 38, on October 15th.
service agreement is a contract subject to the Federal
Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 2 (the
“FAA”) and the District Court must compel a
signatory party to a valid arbitration agreement to abide by
those terms as to any dispute. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc.
v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985). Conversely, parties
who have not assented to an arbitration agreement generally
cannot be compelled to arbitrate. E.E.O.C. v. Waffle
House, 534 U.S. 279, 293 (1989); Bel-Ray Co., Inc.
v. Chemrite (Pty) Ltd., 181 F.3d 435, 444 (3d Cir. 1999)
(“Arbitration is strictly a matter of contract. If a
party has not agreed to arbitrate, the courts have no
authority to mandate [arbitration].”) Plaintiffs,
having “never downloaded the Uber App . . . lacked
notice of Uber's terms and conditions, including its
embedded arbitration provision, and never manifested their
intention to be bound.” Namisnak v. Uber
Technologies, Inc., 315 F.Supp.3d 1124, 1127 (N.D. Cal.
Brief in Support, ECF No. 25, contends that
“this is not an appropriate forum”, asserting
that Plaintiffs are equitably estopped from refusing to
arbitratebecause (1) their claims necessarily
standing to sue as deterrence-injury plaintiffs is based on
allegations that they would have contracted with Uber but for
its discriminatory policies, thus again necessarily
incorporating Uber's arbitration conditions. In sum,
Defendants argue that Plaintiffs are barred from Federal
forum selection and this litigation because they cannot