Security Tech Tourism Travel

Should Uber drivers be allowed to carry concealed handgun while driving tourists?

uber driverIn this week’s article, we examine the case of Mejia v. UBER Technologies, Inc., Case No. 17-cv-61617-BLOOM/Valle (S.D. Fla. (2/15/2018) wherein the Court noted that “Plaintiff filed his Complaint…alleging a single cause of action styled as ‘Violation of Section 790.251, Florida Statutes’ and seeking declaratory relief and damages on behalf of himself and a putative class. According to the Complaint, since June 2015, UBE has maintained a policy that ‘prohibit[s] drivers and riders from carrying guns’. Mejia, who is licensed in the State of Florida to carry a concealed weapon or firearm, alleges that he began work as an ‘UBE driver, offering transportation services primarily in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties’ in March 2016. Plaintiff ‘wishes to carry a firearm in his vehicle while he provides transportation services through UBE’. Based on these allegations, Mejia claims that UBE has violated his rights and the rights of a putative class of UBE drivers who offer transportation services in Florida and possess a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm”.

Terror Targets Update

Saudi Arabia

In Perlroth & Krauss, A Cyberattack in Saudi Arabia Had a Deadly Goal. Experts Fear Another Try, nytimes (3/15/2018) it was noted that “In August, a petrochemical company with a plant in Saudi Arabia was hit by a new kind of cyberassault. The attack was not designed to simply destroy data or shut down the plant, investigators believe. It was meant to sabotage the firm’s operations and trigger an explosion. The attack was a dangerous escalation in international cyberwarfare, as faceless enemies demonstrated both the drive and the ability to inflict serious physical damage. And United States government officials, their allies and cybersecurity researchers worry that the culprits could replicate it in other countries, since thousands of industrial plaints all over the world rely on the American-engineered computer systems that were compromised”.

Orlando, Florida

In Mazzei, Key Question in Pulse Trial for Orlando Gunman’s Wife: How Much Did She Know?, nytimes (3/14/2018) it was noted that “Mr. Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more that night in the name of the Islamic State is undisputed. But he died at the scene in a shootout with police. The defendant on trial in Orlando now is his wife, Noor Salman, and the chief question before the jury is how much she knew about his plans in advance of the rampage. Prosecutors portrayed Ms. Salman as a calculating partner who joined Mr. Mateen on trips to scout possible targets”. Stay tuned.

travis-kalanick-uber-argue_650x400_71488341270Austin, Texas

In Salam, 3 Austin Package Explosions, 2 of Them Deadly, Appear to Be Linked, nytimes (3/12/2018) it was noted that “Two people have been killed and three injured in three separate package explosions at homes in Austin, Texas, this month-crimes that have put the capital city on edge and promoted police to warn residents not to even touch any unexpected packages…The investigation is in its early stages but ‘we do see similarities’ among the three explosions, Chief Manley said”. In Montgomery, Fernandez & Haag, Austin Struck by Fourth Explosion Only Hours After Televised Appeal to Bomber, nytimes (3/18/2018) it was noted that “An explosion on Sunday night injured two people in a neighborhood in southwest Austin, just hours after law enforcement officials made an unusual direct appeal to whoever was responsible for several deadly package explosions this month that have kept the capital of Texas on edge”.

Minnesota

In Stevens, 3 Suspects in Bombing of Minnesota Mosque Face Weapons Charges, nytimes (3/13/2018) it was noted that “Three men charged Tuesday will illegally possessing a machine gun are suspected of bombing a mosque in Minnesota and attempting to bomb an abortion clinic in Illinois last year…While the complaint does not charge the men with crimes related to the bombing episodes, the authorities said that they had gathered evidence indicating that the men were responsible for them. The investigation is continuing, they said”.

Mosul, Iraq

In 39 Indians held hostage by ISIL in Mosul dead, FM says, travelwirenews (3/20/2018) it was noted that “The remains of 39 Indian hostages were found in a mass grave in Mosul…The 39 missing Indians who were taken hostage by ISIL in the Iraqi city of Mosul, have been killed, India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday”.

Uber Halts Tests Of Driverless Cars

In Balakrishnan, Uber halts tests of self-driving cars after fatal accident, msn (3/19/21018) it was noted that “Programs in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Toronto will be paused after a woman was hit and killed overnight by an Uber self-driving car when walking across the street in Tempe, Arizona. It is likely the first pedestrian fatality caused by a self-driving car”.

Hotels Antitrust Lawsuit

In HNN, Antitrust lawsuit filed against six major hotel chains, hotelnewsnow (3/20/2018) it was noted that “A new class action lawsuit has uncovered an antitrust scheme by major hotel chains including Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Wyndham, alleging they conspired to reduce competition and raise consumer prices…Attorneys say millions of consumers have been affected by the years-long anti-competitive practices that cost them billions of dollars. The suit, filed March 19, 2018, in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois states that defendants engaged in an anti-competitive agreement to eliminate online branded keyword search advertising against each other. This is turn, according to the suit, derives consumers of the free flow of competitive information, raising prices for hotel rooms and raising the cost of finding hotel rooms”.

Orbitz Data Breach

In Deahl, Orbitz says a possible data breach has affected 880,000 credit cards, theverge (3/20/2018) it was noted that “Travel booking website Orbitz has announced that it discovered a potential data breach that exposed information for thousands of customers as reported by Engadget. The incident discovered by the company on March 1st, may have exposed information tied to 880,000 credit cards”.

Feet Dangling Photo Op, Anyone?

In Mueller, Doors-Off Helicopter Flights Under Scrutiny After East Coast Crash, nytimes (3/12/2018) it was noted that “The five passengers who were killed when a helicopter without doors splashed into the East River on Sunday night were cinched into heavy-duty harnesses and tied to the helicopter floor with only a knife to free themselves from frigid waters. Given little more than a brief safety video beforehand, they were left at the mercy of a stiff current as the helicopter dragged them 50 blocks south, upside down and underwater, before rescue divers could cut them free. The crash-the deadliest involving a helicopter in New York City since 2009-exposed what aviation experts called startling safety gaps in the fast-growing industry of doors-off photo flights…increasingly marketed to tourists looking to dangle their feet outside and share stomach-churning pictures of the skyline on Instagram. In major cities including Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, sightseers who are untrained, unaware of proper escape maneuvers and underdressed for wind-whipped conditions routinely climb into the doors-off helicopters, with regulatory agencies providing scant oversight”.

No Dogs In Overhead Bin, Please

In Stack, United Airlines Apologizes After Dog Dies in Overhead Compartment, nytimes (3/13/2018) it was noted that “United Airlines apologized on Tuesday after a dog died on a flight during which it was stored in a passenger’s overhead compartment. A witness said that a flight attendant had ordered the pet owner to put the dog in the compartment before the plane took off. The dog, a black French bulldog that was traveling in a pet carrier was placed in the compartment…Putting animals in the overhead compartment is against the airline’s policies which say pets are required to travel in carriers that ‘must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times’. United said it was investigating who had put the dog in the overhead compartment and why”.

Got A Pet? Don’t Fly United Airlines

In 75% of mid-flight pet deaths in US were on United Airlines in 2017, travelwirenews (3/15/2018) it was noted “Eighteen out of 24 pets who died on domestic US flights last year were carried by United Airlines. The latest tragedy came on Monday, when two passengers were forced to put their puppy in an overhead locker. Data from the US Department of Transportation showed United, whose slogan is ‘Fly the Friendly Skies’ was the least pet-friendly of all domestic carriers…In February the department released its Air Travel Consumer Report which showed at least 18 pets died and 13 were injured, way ahead of other airlines, including Delta, American and Alaska Airlines which had two each”.

Goodbye Northern White Rhino

In Northern White Rhino doomed to extinction after last male dies in Kenya, travelwirenews (3/20/2018) it was noted that “The world’s only remaining male northern white rhino has died in Kenya, leaving only two females of the doomed species alive on the planet”.

Bush Fire In Australia

In Kwai, Devastating Australian Bus Fire Destroys Scores of Homes, nytimes (3/19/2018) it was noted that “A devastating weekend fire that continued to rage into Monday consumed at least 69 homes in southern New South Wales…The blaze began midday Sunday in Tarraganda, southeast of Bega, and quickly crossed the Bega River before advancing towards the seaside town of Tathra. Hundreds of its 1,600 residents fled to safety in Bega after receiving emergency alerts”.

Ola Invades Australia

In Cabe & Goel, Uber’s New Rival in Australia: An Indian Upstart, nytimes (3/18/2018) it was noted that “Ola built itself into India’s leading ride-hailing company by catering to the particular needs of Indian customers, who often like to settle fares in cash and jump on cheap, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws for short trips. Now Ola is expending overseas for the first time, to Australia, in a major test of whether India’s new breed of technology start-ups can survive in a developed country”. Good luck.

No Lithium Batteries, Please

In Fottrell, This Delta flight scare is a reminder why you should never put electronics with lithium batteries in checked baggage, nytimes (3/14/2018) it was noted that “They’re found in everything from hair dryers to Apple’s (AAPL) iPads. But lithium-ion batteries shouldn’t be loaded into the cargo hold of planes. A plane full of passengers traveling from Salt Lake City, Utah to Bozeman, Mont. on Delta Air Lines (DAL) discovered this in a dramatic fashion on Monday. A member of the cabin crew brought a burned toiletry bag that contained lithium battery to show the passengers just how dangerous putting them in cargo can be…’We are proud of the quick work of our ground crew who recognized and helped extinguish a bag containing a lithium battery that began overheating inside the cargo hold during the loading process…a spokesman for the airline said”.

Recovery In The Caribbean

In Gross, The Caribbean Now. After Maria’s Devastation, Can Dominica Be A Destination Again?, nytimes (3/19/2018) it was noted that “Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated islands in the Caribbean last September. Six months later, how are they recovering? To find out, writers for Travel spent time in Vieques, St. Martin, St. John, Dominica (below) and San Juan, P.R. (Coming tomorrow)”.

Do Not Pay, Please

In Price, A new tool uses legal loopholes to get you cheaper flights by checking prices 17,000 times a day, businessinsider (3/13/2018) it was noted that “DoNotPay, an automated legal tool, is branching out into helping users book airline tickets, it announced on Monday. It says its services have previously helped overturn hundreds of thousands of user’s parking tickets and assisted people affected by the Equifax data breach in suing the firm. It also works in 1,000 other areas of law. The new service will monitor the price of tickets for flights its users have purchased, then try to take advantage of legal loopholes to get users partial refunds if prices drop. For example: If you’re flying from New York to San Francisco and your ticket drops to $300 from $400 after you book it, DoNotPay will try to get you a 100 refund. ‘In the US (unlike, Europe, unfortunately) there are about 70 different loopholes that will make even the most nonrefundable ticket refundable’, DoNotPay founder, Josh Browder, told Business Insider in an email…Browder said that in private tests with a few hundred users, 68% of flights saw a price decline, with an average of $140. The largest savings on a plane ticket that DoNotPay has seen was $650″.

Flying Taxis, Anyone?

In Sorkin, Larry Page’s Flying Taxis, Now Exiting Stealth Mode, nytimes (3/12/2018) it was noted that “Since October, a mysterious flying object has been seen moving through the skies over the South Island of New Zealand. It looks like a cross between a small plane and a drone. With a series of small rotor blades along each wing to allow it to take off like a helicopter and then fly like a plane…Well, it turns out that the airborne vehicle has been part of a series of ‘stealth’ test flights by a company personally financed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google and now the chief executive officer of Google’s parent, Alphabet. The company, known as Kitty Hawk and run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google’s autonomous car unit as the director of Google X, has been testing a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi…Imagine starting a network of autonomous air taxis, as Uber is planning to, but long before Uber actually does. That’s what Mr. Page is trying to do”.

Bridge Collapse In Miami

In Mazzei, Madigan & Hartocollis, Florida Bridge Collapses; at Least 6 Are Dead, nytimes (3/16/2018) it was noted that “The graceful pedestrian bridge was swung into place on Saturday. Heralded as a triumph of ‘accelerated construction’ the walkway would allow pedestrians to safely cross eight lanes of traffic…Five days later…the walkway collapsed in a pile of 950 tons of metal, concrete and dust…At least six people were killed”.

In Mazzei, Robles & Dickerson, Engineer of Florida Bridge Reported Cracks Days Before Collapse, nytimes (3/16/2018) it was noted that “An engineer reported cracks on a newly installed pedestrian bridge two days before it collapsed on a busy roadway here, killing at least six people…The report, by the lead engineer with the company in charge of the bridge’s design, was made in a voice mail message left for a Florida Department of Transportation employee. The employee was out of the office, however, and did not receive it until Friday, a day after the collapse. The cracking was on the north end of the span but the company did not consider it a safety concern, according to a recording of the message released by the Transportation Department”.

Emergency Visas For White South African Farmers?

In Goldman, Australia Emergency Visas for White South African Farmers, nytimes (3/15/2018) it was noted that “South Africa’s foreign ministry has fired back against an Australian proposal to grant emergency visas to white South African farmers, after a leading Australian politician said the group needed protection in a ‘civilized country’. White farmers ‘deserve special protection’, Peter Dutton, Australia’s home affairs minister, who overseas immigration, said in an interview on Wednesday, amid a debate in South Africa over redistributing white-owned land to black citizens”.

Alaska Airlines Pilot Alleges Rape

In Hauser, Alaska Airlines Pilot, Saying She Was Raped by Fellow Pilot, Sues Company, nytimes (3/17/2018) it was noted that “An Alaska Airlines pilot has sued the airline, alleging she was drugged and raped by another pilot during a layover last year. The lawsuit by (Ms. X) was filed in King County Superior Court in Washington State…It claims that (Ms. X), an Army veteran who flew helicopter missions in Afghanistan was the co-pilot on a June flight…According to the complaint, the pilot asked (Ms. X) to join him for pizza and drinks in the hotel where flight crews spend time…(the complaint) claims that he proceeded to ‘drug (Ms. X) and rape her during a state of involuntary intoxication’”.

Want Stellar Hotel Service?

In Vora, 5 Simple Tips for Getting Stellar Hotel Service, nytimes (3/15/2018) it was noted that “According to Joshua Bush, a hotel industry expert and the chief executive officer of Avenue Two Travel, while good service at a hotel, even a pricey one, it’s a guarantee, there are a few ways to increase your odds of getting treated well. Set Realistic Goals. Keep in mind that most luxury hotels have an ingrained service culture while budget and mid-tier properties often don’t…Pick the Right Property…Reach Out Ahead of Your Stay…Speak Up If Something Goes Wrong…Book Through a Travel Agent. Travel agents, especially those part of large networks such as Virtuoso or Signature Travel Network, can often get their clients free amenities such as property credit or free breakfasts”.

Want To Be Happy? Move To Finland

In Astor, Want to be Happy? Try Moving to Finland, nytimes (3/14/2018) it was noted that “Happy are the people of the Nordic nations-happier, in fact, than anyone else in the world. And the overall happiness of a country is almost identical to the happiness of its immigrants. Those are the main conclusions of the World Happiness Report 2018…Finland is the happiest country in the world, it found, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and Australia…Burundi and Central African Republic, both consumed by political violence are the least happy…As for the United States, it is 18th out of 156 countries surveyed-down four spots from last year’s report and five from 2016’s and substantially below most comparably wealthy nations”.

Tips From Uber & Lyft Drivers

In Crouch, 18 Things Uber and Lyft Drivers Want You To Know, rd, it was noted that “Get the inside scoop on what Uber and Lyft drivers are actually thinking when they pick you up”.

Don’t Burn The King’s Photo, Please

In Minder, Burning King’s Picture Is Free Speech, European Court Warns Spain, nytimes (3/13/2018) it was noted that “The European Court of Human Rights said on Tuesday that Spain had wrongfully condemned two Catalans for publicly burning a photograph of the king and queen, saying that the act was justifiable political criticism. In their unanimous ruling, the judges said they were ‘not convinced’ that the burning ‘could reasonably be construed as incitement to hatred or violence’”.

Pay The Queen A Proper Wage, Please

In Salam, Claire Foy, Queen on ‘The Crown’ Was Paid Less Than Her Onscreen Husband, nytimes (3/13/2018) it was noted that “Not even the queen of England can get an equal share of mincemeat pie. The actress Claire Foy, who charmed critics and fans as a young Queen Elizabeth II in the Netflix series “The Crown’ was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, who played the queen’s husband…The producers said that in the drama’s coming season, the issue would be rectified. ‘Going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen’”. Bravo.

Southern African Reptile Smugglers

In Europeans are major smugglers of Southern African Reptiles, travelwirenews (3/15/2018) it was noted that “The European Union is a major destination for illegally smuggled snakes, lizards and tortoises from southern Africa, posing a serious threat to their conservation. Wealthy EU citizens are big collectors of rare reptiles, with one tortoise openly offered for sale at R35,000. Most of the species are protected by South African or Namibian legislation. They may not be removed from their natural environment but once they reach Europe the trade becomes legal as there is no legislation outside southern Africa protecting them according to a report released by the German organization, Pro Wildlife”.

China’s War On Pollution

In Greenstone, Four Years After Declaring War on Pollution, China Is Winning, nytimes (3/12/2018) it was noted that “On March 4, 2014, the Chinese premier (stated) ‘We will resolutely declare war against pollution as we declare war against poverty’. The statement broke the country’s longstanding policy of putting economic growth over environment, and many wondered whether China would really follow through. Four years after that declaration, the data is in: China is winning, at record pace. In particular, cities have cut concentrations of find particulates in the air by 32 percent on average, in just those four years…But if China sustains these reductions, recent research by my colleagues and me indicates that residents will see significant improvements to their health, extending their life spans by months or years”.

SeaWorld’s $299 Long Line Avoidance Fee

In Munarriz, Will Disney Copy SeaWorld’s $299 Trick?, fool (3/11/2018) it was noted that “A theme park is testing a new high-priced way to avoid long ride lines, and it may be a matter of time before Disney and Universal Studios… follows suit at their busier attractions. SeaWorld Entertainment Busch Gardens Tampa is now selling Year-Round Quick Queue, a $299 ticket that grants park visitors unlimited access to expedited Quick Queue lines for the park’s 10 most popular rides for 365 days from the time of first use. There may be initial sticker shock at the $299 price tag for a year of waltzing around the Florida park with minimal wait times for its signature coasters, but it’s not an outlandish ask”.

Travel Law Case Of The Week

In the Mejia case the Court noted that “In response to the Complaint, Defendant moves to compel arbitration. Specifically, Defendant argues that before Plaintiff began providing transportation services as an Uber driver, he entered into a Technology Services Agreement with Raiser-DC, LLC, UBE’s wholly owned subsidiary (the Raiser Agreement) (which) contains an arbitration provision and a class action waiver (which Mejia did not choose to opt-out of)”.

Right To Bear Arms

“In opposition, Plaintiff argues that because of Florida’s ‘rigorous statutory framework enshrining the constitutional right to bear arms’, the arbitration clause is unconstitutional as applied. Plaintiff further argues that the arbitration provision is procedurally unconscionable because there is no meaningful way to opt out of the arbitration provision since the process must be completed by mail and cannot be completed through UBE’s smartphone application. Plaintiff also argues that the Raiser Agreement is procedurally unconscionable… (and) substantively unconscionable because it attempts to strip Plaintiff of rights that ‘may not be infringed upon’ namely Plaintiff’s alleged right under Florida law to keep a concealed weapon in his vehicle while driving for UBE”.

Standing

“Although the parties have not raised the issue of standing, the Court properly considers the threshold jurisdictional question…The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proving the essential elements of standing…a plaintiff must satisfy three constitutional prerequisites of standing: First, the plaintiff must have suffered an in injury in fact-an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there must be causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of-the injury has to be fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant, and not the result of the independent action of some third party not before the court. Third, it must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision”.

No Injury In Fact

“In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he possesses a license to carry a concealed weapon from the State of Florida and that he ‘wishes to carry a firearm in his vehicle while he provides transportation services through UBE’. Plaintiff further pleads that ‘[t]hrough its no-firearm policy, UBE has violated the rights of Plaintiff (and the Class) as those rights are described under subsections 790.251(4)(c)-(d), Florida Statutes.’ However, these allegations without more, do not sufficiently plead an injury in fact, that is, an invasion of a legally protected interest that is ‘concrete and particularized’ and ‘actual or imminent’…First, Plaintiff only alleges that he ‘wishes’ to carry his firearm while driving for UBE, but does not allege that he tried to do so or that UBE has attempted to enforce the Policy against him…Second, the Policy states that Defendant ‘prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms of any kind in a vehicle while using [UBE’s] app…to the extent permitted by applicable law’.

No Conflict With UBE Policy

“The crux of Plaintiff’s claim is that the policy conflicts with Florida Statute 790.251(4)(c)-(d), even though the plain language of the Policy carves out the conflict Plaintiff complains of and UBE has not otherwise attempted to enforce the Policy against Mejia. Instead Plaintiff requests this Court to extrapolate how, if at all, UBE might enforce the Policy against Plaintiff and the putative class. Plaintiff speculates that UBE may prohibit him from keeping his firearm in his vehicle while using the UBE application, allegedly in contravention of Florida law, but this hypothesis does not ‘support a finding of the ‘actual or imminent’ injury that our cases require’ and defies the plain language of the policy…the relief that Plaintiff seeks, ‘that the Court declare that Defendant’s conduct violates the statute referenced herein’…is an impermissible ‘exercise in purely advisory decision-making’”.

Conclusion

“Because Plaintiff lacks standing, the Court refrains from further consideration of the Motion and this action must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction”.

The author, Thomas A. Dickerson, is a retired Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department of the New York State Supreme Court and has been writing about Travel Law for 42 years including his annually updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2018), Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2018), Class Actions: The Law of 50 States, Law Journal Press (2018) and over 500 legal articles. For additional travel law news and developments, especially, in the member states of the EU see IFTTA.org.

This article may not be reproduced without the permission of Thomas A. Dickerson.

Read many of Justice Dickerson’s articles here.

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