A federal judge in California has turned down a lawsuit that would have forced Uber to offer vehicles that can be used by people in wheelchairs. The judge said that such a requirement would be too hard on the ride-hailing company.
U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Seeborg ruled Monday in San Francisco against Scott Crawford of Mississippi and two other plaintiffs from New Orleans. They had said that Uber’s lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles in New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Seeborg, on the other hand, wrote that the plaintiffs didn’t offer a reasonable change to Uber’s services and didn’t give enough proof that the company had broken the law.
The decision came after a bench trial that took almost five years. WLBT-TV said that the first people to sue the company were two people from New Orleans. They said that the lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles in the city was a violation of the ADA. Crawford then used the same reason to ask Jackson for the vehicles.
“Uber didn’t try to make their service accessible; instead, they said it was too hard,” he said. “This could have been solved on a financial level a long time ago.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyers said that Uber has a “deep-rooted problem with accessibility” and that it treats accessibility as an “afterthought.”
Uber’s lawyers said that the programs would be too expensive and wouldn’t work in either city. Estimates that Uber got and used in the decision say that it would cost $800,000 per year to provide the service in New Orleans and $550,000 in Jackson.
The decision said that costs were based on 16 hours of service during the week and 10 hours on weekends. Even though there are three service-ready cars available at all times, not every ride request can be filled.
Uber has services for people who use wheelchairs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston, among other cities. WLBT-TV said that the service is provided in each city through agreements with commercial operators.
According to court records, New Orleans thought about making Uber offer the service, but “Uber fought against that ordinance.”
Crawford, an activist for the rights of people with disabilities, was upset that the decision came out the day before the ADA’s anniversary. On July 26, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the act.
Crawford said that when state lawmakers meet next year, they should require ride-hailing services to have cars that can be accessed by wheelchairs. He might appeal the court’s decision, but he said he hasn’t made up his mind yet.