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MacCausland v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 30, 2018

Raymond P MacCausland, Individually and on Behalf of All Persons Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
Uber Technologies, Inc. and Rasier, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         This is a putative class action brought by Raymond MacCausland (“MacCausland” or “plaintiff”) on behalf of taxi drivers in the Greater Boston area. Plaintiff alleges that Uber Technologies, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Raiser, LLC (“Uber” or “defendant”) competed unlawfully in the on-demand, ride-hail ground transportation market in and around Boston, Massachusetts. Plaintiff alleges that Uber competed unfairly and deceptively in violation of the common law and of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, that Uber violated state and federal antitrust law and that Uber engaged in a civil conspiracy and aided and abetted unfair competition.

         Before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's antitrust claims.

         I. Background

         Uber entered the Boston market for private transportation services in 2011 and launched its UberX service in 2013. The company provides a digital tool for potential riders to request private vehicles-for-hire by using Uber's free “smart phone application” (“the Uber app”). Users who open the Uber app on their mobile phones are shown a map of their location or a nearby designated pick-up point and the available Uber-affiliated vehicles in that vicinity.

         According to MacCausland, the City of Boston has issued approximately 1, 825 taxi licenses, referred to as taxi medallions, subject to a strict and extensive city regulatory regime. In contrast, there are over 20, 000 cars-for-hire that currently provide Uber's ride-hailing service in the Boston area.

         In February, 2017, MacCausland, a Boston taxi driver, filed this complaint against Uber. At the same time, taxi medallion holders sued Uber under the same legal theories that plaintiff alleges here. That related action involves seven different groups of plaintiffs who represent over 800 plaintiff taxi companies in the Greater Boston area. Originally, seven separate complaints were filed in this district between December, 2016, and April, 2017. The Court consolidated the cases pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a)(2) in October, 2017.

         In December, 2017, this session ruled on Uber's motion to dismiss the consolidated action. See Malden Transportation, Inc. v. Uber Techs., Inc., 286 F.Supp.3d 264 (D. Mass. 2017). The Court held that the so-called Malden plaintiffs stated a claim for unfair competition under the common law and M.G.L. c. 93A and that plaintiffs stated a claim for aiding and abetting unfair competition and civil conspiracy to commit unfair competition. The Court allowed defendants' motion to dismiss claims against two of Uber's founders for want of personal jurisdiction. It also allowed Uber's motion to dismiss with respect to plaintiffs' antitrust claims, tortious interference claims and failed theories of civil conspiracy. See generally id.

         After the issuance of that memorandum and order, plaintiffs in the Malden cases as well as the plaintiff in this case (MacCausland) amended their complaints. MacCausland's second amended complaint mimics the amended complaints in Malden. He asserts counts of unfair and deceptive trade practices under the common law and Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, as well as aiding and abetting and unfair competition. He has also added factual allegations to his complaint which bear upon his claims of violation of state and federal antitrust law. In May, 2018, the parties in this case filed a stipulation of dismissal against the individual defendants.

         Before the Court is Uber's motion to dismiss MacCausland's antitrust claims.

         II. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering the merits of a motion to dismiss, the Court may look only to the facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint and matters of which judicial notice can be taken. Nollet v. Justices of Trial Court of Mass., 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208 (D. Mass. 2000), aff'd, 248 F.3d 1127 (1st Cir. 2000). Furthermore, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Langadinos v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). If the facts in the complaint are sufficient to state a cause of action, a motion to dismiss the complaint must be denied. See Nollet, 83 F.Supp.2d at 208.

         Although a court must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in a complaint, that doctrine is not applicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Threadbare recitals of the legal elements which are supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice to state a cause of action. Id. Accordingly, a complaint does not state a claim for relief where the well-pled facts fail to warrant an inference of any more than the mere possibility of misconduct. Id. at 679.

         III. ...


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