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Does conducting business via smartphone apps invite litigation?

For many companies, the Internet makes interstate commerce much easier. Yet does that accessibility also increase the risk of business litigation? 

In a recent example, the office of the Massachusetts attorney general announced upcoming meetings with representatives from Uber and Lyft regarding their compliance with applicable disability laws. Both ridesharing companies rely on technology, specifically a smartphone app, to connect riders with local, independent drivers. However, riders with special needs have voiced complaints against the companies. 

For Uber, the meeting is not entirely a surprise. Since May, local disability advocates began petitioning state lawmakers to require the ride-hailing company to better serve riders in wheelchairs or with other disability needs. 

Spokespersons from both companies claimed they were working towards compliance, with the debut of accessible options to begin in Boston. However, some commentators question the timetable of those options, as the meetings with the state attorney general have not yet been scheduled. 

A variety of issues can surface when business transactions cross one or more state lines. Some federal laws may impose uniform requirements, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, states are also free to provide additional protections. A company may need to be familiar with each state's requirements to avoid business litigation.

Our firm has helped business clients in many sizes and stages of development. Whether your enterprise is a startup, a Fortune 500 company, or a national company with local interests in Massachusetts, our attorneys can assist you with various complicated legal issues that may arise.

Source: Boston Globe, "Mass. attorney general to meet with Uber, Lyft over disabled access," Dan Adams, July 20, 2015

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