Australian cabbies drive home with $272 million in landmark Uber payout

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The 8,000 class action participants are from the hire car, taxi, charter vehicle and limousine industries in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, and WA. The Uber payout is the fifth-highest class action resolution in Australian history.
BRAZIL – 2023/10/02: In this photo illustration, the Uber logo is seen displayed on a smartphone screen. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Nikos Andrianakis acquired a taxi-cab licence in the 1990s for $120,000, according to filings brought against Uber in a Victorian Supreme Court class action suit. That license was valued at approximately $275,000 in 2014, the suit alleges.

By 2017, the income Andrianakis’ earned from operating a taxi-cab in Victoria was $35,000 less than it was in 2013, the filings reveal. The decline in income left the driver with just $1,621 in annual profit after paying for expenses.

The entity that Andrianakis, his law firm Maurice Blackburn, and the other parties to the class action suit say is responsible for that decline, is Uber. Their claim against Uber U.S., and Uber subsidiaries in the Netherlands and Australia, is for lost income. The class action suit that was lodged against the company five years ago, also alleges that participants suffered a loss in the value of their licenses.

“We started this class action in response to losses suffered by drivers, licence owners, and operators when Uber entered the Australian market,” a statement from Maurice Blackburn reads.

Uber this week agreed to pay out $272 million to Andrianakis and the other participants to the lawsuit. The 8,000 class action participants are from the hire car, taxi, charter vehicle, and limousine industries in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.

Australian taxi drivers impacted by the rise of ridesharing giant Uber have won $272 million in compensation, lawyers said on March 18 after settling a gruelling legal battle. More than 8,000 taxi drivers and hire car owners banded together to launch legal action in 2019.(Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

Other timelines disclosed in the Statement of Claim lodged by Maurice Blackburn are:

  • In about August 2012, Uber Inc decided to commence operating the Uber Business in
    Australia.
  • In about 2012 to 2013, Uber Inc provided financial support to Uber Australia.
  • In about April 2013, Uber Inc launched, in the United States of America, the ride-sharing service known as uberX.
  • On about 12 April 2013, Uber Inc adopted a policy that, or to the effect that: (a) it would roll out UberX in any market where the regulator had tacitly approved doing so by failing to take direct enforcement action.

Uber issued a statement when the payout was announced noting that while Uber is now regulated in every Australian state and territory, ridesharing regulations did not exist when the company began operating.

“The rise of ridesharing has grown Australia’s overall point-to-point transport industry, bringing with it greater choice and improved experiences for consumers, as well as new earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers,” the statement from Uber reads

“Since 2018, Uber has made significant contributions into various state-level taxi compensation schemes, and with today’s proposed settlement, we put these legacy issues firmly in our past.”

Related

Andrianakis spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019 when the case was filed.

“I can clearly remember the day it all became too much – I just stopped driving that day and had to go home to be with my wife,’’ Andrianakis told the Herald. ‘‘It’s a shocking thing to think of a life’s work being stripped away from you, but this is what’s happened to thousands of people nationwide.”

Lizzie O’Shea is the lawyer who represented the class action participants and worked on the case for more than five years.

“Here we are 18 months later, with a historic settlement reached, with Uber to pay $272 million – the fifth highest class action resolution ever in Australian legal history.”

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