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Uber in Hot Water After Hiring PI to Investigate Plaintiff

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


Uber received yet another set back in Meyer v. Kalanick, a class action in which the lead plaintiff, Spencer Meyer, alleged that Uber uses a pricing algorithm to restrict price competition between drivers, thus keeping fares from lowering. Southern District Judge Jed Rakoff enjoined the company and its CEO, Travis Kalanick, from using information gleaned from the intrusive and clandestine investigation of a private investigator.

Kalanick hired the private investigation firm, Ergo, to conduct an investigation of Meyer and his attorney, Andrew Schmidt, based on his suspicion that Schmidt was prompting Meyer to continue with the suit. However, Ergo’s investigator employed some less than savory tactics when trying to obtain information about the duo. Upon learning that Meyers was part of an environmental conservation research project associated with Yale University, the investigator told Meyer’s co-workers that he was conducting research on up-and-coming researchers in environmental conservation. Similarly, when attempting to get information on Schmidt, the investigator told the attorney’s colleagues that he was writing a piece on up-and-coming labor attorneys.

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Both Meyer and Schmidt soon became aware of the investigation and brought it to the attention of Judge Rakoff. In May, the court authorized the plaintiff to depose Uber and Ergo officials concerning the unauthorized investigation. In response, Uber and Ergo claimed the information was protected under attorney client privilege and work product protection, but the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Judge Rakoff admonished the defendants for lying to friends and colleagues of the plaintiff and his counsel in an attempt to obtain derogatory information.

The case is: Meyer v. Kalanick, 15-cv-9796

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