Pando

Court docs show Uber has settled lawsuit over death of 6-year-old-girl, but wants insurance company to foot the bill

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on September 10, 2015

From The Travis Shrugged Desk

On new year’s eve 2013, an Uber driver in San Francisco hit and killed a 6-year-old girl who was walking with her mother and young brother.

As we reported at the time, Uber denied responsibility for the accident, arguing that while driver Syed Muzzafar was logged on to the Uber system, he didn’t actually have an Uber passenger in his car at the time he killed the child.

Later the family of the victim filed a lawsuit against Uber and the driver for wrongful death, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Again, Uber denied responsibility for accidents caused by its drivers.

Almost two years later, new legal filings (embedded below) show that Uber has had a change of mind, if not of heart. According to the documents, filed by Uber’s insurance company, the lawsuit brought by the dead girl’s family was settled by Uber late last month for an undisclosed amount.

That settlement, however, has prompted a new legal fight after Uber tried to argue that its insurance company should reimburse it for the compensation paid to the family of the dead child.

For its part, the insurer -- Evanston Insurance Company -- is relying on Uber’s own logic to reject the claim: Uber has said repeatedly it does not own any of the vehicles in its fleet, and that its drivers are independent contractors. Therefore, their behavior cannot be covered by Uber’s own corporate insurance. Any settlement agreed by Uber is entirely the company’s own responsibility.  

Attorneys for Evanston have asked a District Court in San Francisco to rule that the company “owes no coverage obligations under an occurrence excess liability policy with respect to Uber’s liability in the matter.”

Given how keen Uber is not to have to foot the bill for the undisclosed settlement, it seems reasonable to assume that the family of the killed child received a sizable sum. Still, there’s something slightly unpleasant about a $50bn company being quite so keen to pass responsibility for its blood money to an insurance company, like it’s just another cost of doing business.