weather icon Clear

Sexual assault survivors: Uber wants to silence them with lawyer fee cap

Updated April 10, 2024 - 10:33 am

A group representing sexual assault survivors and a trial lawyers association are challenging a proposal to cap the percentage of fees an attorney can collect in civil cases, arguing it would prevent victims from having access to representation they need to sue Uber in court.

Uber Sexual Assault Survivors for Legal Accountability and the Nevada Justice Association filed a challenge Monday to the Uber-backed initiative petition Monday in the District Court, nearly missing the 15-day deadline to challenge the proposal.

The lawsuit, which asks for the petition to be blocked from gathering signatures on the grounds that it does not follow requirements under state statute and the Nevada Constitution, argues that the proposal is yet another strategy by Uber to silence survivors.

“Uber’s ballot initiative would allow Uber to hire the best and most expensive attorneys, with no limits on its lawyers’ fees, while imposing unprecedented limits on ordinary Nevadans’ ability to obtain legal representation,” the filing said.

The initiative petition was filed in mid-March by Uber-backed Nevadans for Fair Recovery PAC and aims to ensure plaintiffs receive what backers call a “fair share” of awards in civil cases by capping attorneys’ fees at 20 percent.

In a statement, the group took aim at trial lawyers — who are opposing the measure — arguing that the measure goes against the lawyers’ “financial interests.”

“Trial lawyers have enjoyed a financial windfall under the current system that sets no cap on the amount of money they can take from an injured party. It is in their financial interests to prevent this measure from going to the voters,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement. “We are committed to qualifying and passing this initiative, and we will vigorously defend this measure in court so that victims get a fair and just recovery for their injuries.”

Uber recorded 9,805 reports of sexual assaults during its rides between 2017 and 2020, according to a safety report released by the ride-share company.

Hundreds of sexual assault lawsuits have been filed against Uber, many of which allege the ride-share company failed to implement safety precautions to protect passengers from sexual harassment and assault. Approximately 250 cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation, which means pretrial matters will be heard by a federal judge.

Uber and the secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.