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Uber Wins Victory in Appeal Brought by Boston Taxi Conglomerate

Paul, Weiss obtained a victory in the First Circuit on behalf of Uber, successfully defending the Massachusetts district court’s ruling in the largest case Uber ever tried to judgment. The district court had held that Uber did not compete unfairly in the Boston market when it operated without licenses in violation of long-standing taxi rules, and denied a Boston taxi conglomerate’s $750 million damages claim. The First Circuit affirmed all of the district court’s rulings. Litigation partner Karen Dunn led the trial team to victory in 2019 and argued the appeal in December 2020.

The First Circuit held that Uber was not liable for violating the Massachusetts unfair competition statute, Chapter 93A. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the district court applied “an outdated ‘rascality’ standard” in addressing liability under Chapter 93A, and sided with Uber in reaffirming that, in order for conduct to amount to a violation of Chapter 93A, it must be “extreme or egregious.” The appellate court reiterated the district court’s finding that “Uber’s entry into the market was not ‘unfair’ or ‘unscrupulous,’” given that Uber was not the first “unlawful” entrant, competed in response to changing marketplace conditions, and sought to inform regulators that it was entering the market.

The First Circuit also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that Uber was liable under the common law for unfair competition because it violated a statute enacted to protect taxis from unauthorized competition. The court agreed with Uber that the legislative history demonstrated the statute was enacted for public convenience and necessity rather than to protect taxis from competition. Finally, the First Circuit agreed with the district court that the opinions of the plaintiffs’ damages experts were unreliable, so that the plaintiffs could not prove damages with reasonable certainty.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Karen Dunn and Meredith Dearborn, counsel Melissa Zappala and associate Erica Spevack.

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