Uber, Lyft settle litigation involving top executives

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A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016.    REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files
A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016.

Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Files

Rival ride services Uber and Lyft have settled high stakes litigation involving two of their top executives, court filings show, in advance of a trial that could have aired sensitive details about both companies.

Lyft and its former chief operating officer Travis VanderZanden ended litigation in a California state court in which Lyft accused VanderZanden of breaking his confidentiality pledges when he went to work for Uber.

Uber also withdrew a subpoena on Monday in separate litigation over a data breach at Uber, which had targeted an Internet address assigned to Lyft’s chief technology officer (CTO), according to a court filing.

Last year Reuters reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was pursuing a criminal investigation of a May 2014 data breach at Uber [UBER.UL], including an examination of whether any employees at competitor Lyft were involved.

Lyft has said it found no evidence that any employee was involved in the breach. It is unclear what impact the civil settlements will have on that probe.

A Lyft spokesman confirmed the settlement with VanderZanden on Monday but declined to disclose the terms. An Uber representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

VanderZanden served as Lyft’s chief operating office until August 2014, when he expressed disagreement with the company’s leadership and approached two board members about taking over as chief executive, according to court filings.

Lyft accepted VanderZanden’s resignation instead, and he eventually became vice president of international growth at rival Uber.

Lyft sued him in November 2014. In a sworn affidavit submitted in court earlier this year, VanderZanden said Lyft sued him in bad faith.

According to VanderZanden’s filing, Lyft surmised he had told Uber that Lyft’s CTO, Chris Lambert, had discovered a method to “hack into Uber’s computer systems and gain access to Uber confidential information.”

Uber revealed last year that as many as 50,000 of its drivers’ names and their license numbers had been improperly downloaded, and filed a lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court in an attempt to unmask the hacker.

As part of its investigation, Uber determined that an Internet address potentially associated with the breach could be traced to Lambert. However, Lambert’s attorney told Reuters Lambert “had nothing to do” with the breach, which was launched from a different Internet address.

Trial in the VanderZanden case had been scheduled to begin in August.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Mark Potter)