A prominent Argentine lawyer has filed a multimillion-dollar federal complaint against Uber for the unimaginable harm he claims Uber inflicted on him as a result of Uber's “recklessly orchestrated” entry into Buenos Aires.
Forgiveness, not permission
The suit was in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiff is represented by McDonald Hopkins LLC. The complaint asserts that Uber's introduction into Argentina's capital city follows a pattern of tumultuous entry into new markets which takes the approach that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. However, the complaint states Uber's risk was not its own. Uber retained the plaintiff years before the launch simply to be the legal representative of Uber and to set up a local subsidiary in preparation for potential future operations. The plaintiff argues that instead of consulting, or even giving plaintiff fair warning before beginning operations, Uber launched operations which are regarded by city government and taxing authorities as in violation of applicable laws. The launch, which the plaintiff only learned about via a spam email, he says was disastrous and caused him to endure years of prosecution under two criminal investigations, including charges for aggravated tax evasion which could lead to years of imprisonment. Additional threatened charges of evasion of federal and provincial taxes and money laundering also loom.
'Thrown to wolves'
The complaint details a pattern of deceit whereby “Uber, a multibillion-dollar international behemoth with near limitless resources, allowed [plaintiff], who played no role in its operations, to be thrown to the wolves and bear the brunt of the eminently predictable public outcry, labor union and taxi driver rage, political pressure, police actions, and criminal charges. With [plaintiff] as a scapegoat, Uber's real Argentine counsel and advisors continued to operate behind the scenes unscathed.” The complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty, deceit, fraud, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
'Branded as criminal'
Stephen J Rosenfeld, the plaintiff's counsel, said “we filed the lawsuit to right an unspeakable wrong. A good and decent man with a 30-year career and an impeccable reputation, until his path crossed Uber's, has been fingerprinted, branded as a criminal, and devastated as a result of Uber's conduct. His name was synonymous with tax evasion and illegal activity even though Uber committed all of the alleged wrongdoing. Uber has yet to even publicly apologize for what it considers a mere inconvenience or collateral damage. This abhorrent conduct must be deterred, and the only way Uber will stop bullying others is to have someone like my client say enough is enough. Uber cannot trample over others and the law any longer.”