U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York said Monday that Uber Technologies, Inc. could not use the information it obtained from a private investigation.
The issue came before the court as part of a price-fixing lawsuit, reports Reuters.
Spencer Meyer has brought a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that the company and its CEO actively conspired “with Uber drivers to coordinate high ‘surge pricing’ fares during periods of heavy demand, by agreeing to charge prices set by an algorithm in the Uber smartphone app for hailing rides.”
Uber hired Ergo, a 10-year-old New York City firm, to investigate the plaintiff in hopes to “dig up derogatory information about him and his lawyer.” Ergo was started by a former White House counter-terrorism director.
In his ruling, Judge Rakoff states that Ergo was “engaged in fraudulent and arguably criminal conduct” and that it actively protected evidence that would reveal “fraudulent and arguably criminal activity.” Rakoff concluded his judgment by calling Uber’s actions “sad,” saying, “it is a sad day when, in response to the filing of a commercial lawsuit, a corporate defendant feels compelled to hire unlicensed private investigators to conduct secret personal background investigations of both the plaintiff and his counsel.”
The lawyers of Uber, Ergo, and the plaintiff have yet to respond to the court’s decision.
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