The original lawsuit, which was filed by Harriet Lowell and Westchester Disabled on the Move, Inc. (WDOMI), asserted that Lowell is unable to use Lyft because they do not offer any accessible vehicles in White Plains. It further alleges that Lyft “pervasively and systematically” excludes people with mobility disabilities and that members of WDOMI “have been and will be injured” because of Lyft’s unfair practices.
Lyft filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that neither of the plaintiffs had standing. According to court documents Lyft held that Lowell did not sign up for the service, so she was never injured. Roman ruled that since Lowell had heard from other disabled people that using Lyft was futile, then she had a plausible claim for an injury. WDOMI claimed that it had standing because as an advocacy organization they diverted resources to file the lawsuit; however since the organization could not cite specific examples Roman granted Lyft’s motion to dismiss their claim under New York City laws, but not federal laws.
Additionally, Lyft held that under their terms of service, the plaintiffs were required to file federal discrimination claims with an arbitrator and not in court. The judge ruled against Lyft, and held that it was unjust to hold individuals to an arbitration clause buried in the verbiage of the terms of service agreement, for a service that they did not sign up for, particularly when those individuals have not received any benefits from the agreement.
Lyft also disputed that it is a “public accommodation in the business of transportation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The judge declined to rule on that issue – which will be decided in court – but he found that the plaintiff had a plausible claim that Lyft operates a public accommodation and that she was damaged.
This landmark case will move on to trial later this year.