Yesterday — just hours after Judge Rakoff ordered broad discovery from Uber and its in-house counsel regarding potentially improper investigative techniques — Uber’s CEO moved to compel arbitration in the antitrust class action brought by Uber riders (see previous coverage here). The motion argues that the CEO, as an employee of Uber, is entitled to assert Uber’s arbitration clause in the terms and conditions that each rider agreed to. The motion also argues that the arbitrator, and not Judge Rakoff, should decide the question of arbitrability in the first instance.
The defense further contends that the plaintiffs purposefully named Uber’s CEO (and not Uber itself) as the defendant in order to avoid arbitration:
In a transparent attempt to avoid the Arbitration Agreement, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit challenging Uber’s business model as a purported price-fixing scheme, but named Uber’s CEO Mr. Kalanick, a non-signatory to the Arbitration Agreement, as the sole defendant, while omitting Uber, a signatory, from the proceedings. This procedural sleight of hand does not relieve Plaintiff of his contractual obligation to arbitrate.