Emil Michael, Uber’s former senior vice president of business who resigned in June, asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit against him on Monday.
The documents were filed in the US District Court of Northern California in San Francisco.
The lawsuit concerns the medical files of a woman who was raped in India by her Uber driver in December, 2014. During the trial, the driver was alleged to have had a history of sexual assault. After she was raped, she sued Uber and that case was settled. The rapist was convicted of the crime and sent to prison for life. Alexander reportedly helped with that conviction, even testifying at his trial.
This lawsuit is the second one the woman filed against Uber. It came after a story that circulated earlier this year, first reported by Recode’s Kara Swisher, that alleged that Uber executives had obtained and mishandled the woman’s medical records when dealing with that first lawsuit. The suit alleges that various Uber executives violted her medical privacy by looking at her health records.
Michael is one of three Uber executives personally named in the suit. The company is also being sued. The other executives named are former CEO Travis Kalanick, and former president of Asia, Eric Alexander.
In the motion to dismiss, Michael’s lawyers argue that the whole case against their client is nonsense. The lawyers don’t go so far as to deny that someone at Uber (perhaps even Michael) may have seen the woman’s medical records, obtained by another employee from the police in Dehli, India, when she sued Uber and was working to put the rapist behind bars. Rather, Michael denies that he had anything to do with obtaining them.
The woman — who is not named — also alleges that Uber executives defamed her by suggesting to others that she was working with a rival company to harm Uber’s business. On that allegation, the lawyers use an interesting tactic: they invoke the name of LeBron James and the crazy 2010 lawsuit from a man named Leicester Bryce Stovell
Stovell is an attorney who claimed that he was the biological father of James by way of that lawsuit. He was demanding $US4 million dollars from his allegedly long-lost-son and his son’s mother.
Among the things Stovell claimed was defamation. This was, apparently, based on a remark from James who at one point said, “I want to be a better father than mine was.” The lawsuit was dismissed in 2011 with the judge basically decreeing that the people hearing a negative remark have to know exactly who is being dissed, and no one would have thought of Stovell. Michael’s attorneys invoke LeBron James to argue that since the woman’s identity was never revealed publicly by Michael, he couldn’t have defamed her. This second lawsuit is filed under “Jane Doe.”
The hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for December 1. Even if the judge decides to drop Michael from the suit, that doesn’t mean that the whole suit will be kicked out and the other executives won’t be on the hook for allegations involving her medical records. But should a judge drop Michael from the case, it would be a step in that direction. And that would be a step toward ending one of the nastiest lawsuits hanging over several Uber executives’ heads.