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Vegas restaurants file class-action suit against Uber for allowing ‘imposter’ pages

Updated April 26, 2024 - 4:10 pm

Four Las Vegas restaurants have filed a class-action lawsuit against Uber alleging fraud, conversion of funds, civil RICO, racketeering and negligence in connection with the Uber Eats delivery service.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Clark County District Court, involves restaurant pages appearing on the Uber Eats platform that allegedly impersonated the plaintiffs and other restaurants, allowing malicious actors “to siphon business for themselves using the goodwill created by the actual business owners,” according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are Esther’s Kitchen, Gaetano’s Ristorante, Manizza’s Pizza and BabyStacks Cafe. None is on Uber Eats, yet “imposter” pages used their names or a similar name on the platform. After the Review-Journal and other outlets reported the discrepancies, Uber removed the “imposter” pages on Tuesday.

“Of course, these restaurants are all very different, but they have something in common beyond all being great restaurants in their own right. They are all victims of having their identities stolen and their reputations tarnished to some degree by Uber Eats,” Kimball Jones, a partner in Bighorn Law, said in remarks Friday at Manizza’s.

Bighorn, a Vegas firm, is representing the plaintiffs.

‘Going on for years’

Jones continued his remarks: “Moreover, the complaint alleges that Uber has known that this was going on for years, and rather than shut down the fraud, it made the platform fraud-friendly.

“We allege in our Complaint that Uber made the deliberate decision to keep this fraud gateway open because they did not care about any business that was not their customer, and because Uber itself was benefiting to the tune of 30 percent from all of these fraudulent transactions.”

The lawsuit also names Rasier LLC (a third-party company Uber uses to pay its drivers), Berchman Melancon (a territory lead for Uber Eats overseeing the service in Nevada), Nick Doe and Karina Doe (two Uber Eats drivers whose true identities have yet to be ascertained), and other individuals and entities whose true identities also have yet to be ascertained.

Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on their own behalf and on behalf of similarly situated entities (together, the Class). The size of the Class “is believed to be in excess of 1,000 restaurants, past and present,” the complaint said.

An Uber-backed proposal

In his remarks, Jones also noted that a new political action committee backed by Uber and some other Nevada businesses is proposing a statutory initiative that would limit the fees that Nevada attorneys can charge in civil cases.

“This would create a scenario where a lawsuit against every bad actor in our state, including lawsuits against Uber, whether it be a car crash or the numerous sexual assault cases against Uber drivers or more cases like this, where local businesses are being harmed, the victim would have their ability to find a great attorney restricted unless they happen to have the money to pay for that up front.

“On the other hand, Uber, with its billions of dollars, would still be able to hire any lawyer it wanted, at a thousand dollars or more and hour, giving it an unfair advantage in these cases.”

Jones said plaintiffs had no choice but to file suit. “We don’t think there is any other way to get this multi-billion-dollar company to do the right thing.”

Uber has not responded to a request for comment.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JLWTaste on Instagram.

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