Despite making headlines and a fancy press conference back in May, one man’s lawsuit against ride-hailing company Uber for allegedly stealing his idea has lost a key player: the man’s attorney.
Christopher B. Dolan last week filed a motion in a California state court to withdraw from representing Kevin Halpern in Halpern’s $1 billion lawsuit against Uber and some of its investors. Though Dolan appeared enthusiastic about helping Halpern when the suit was filed in May, he’s now walking away due to “an irreparable and complete breakdown in communication,” according to court filings. Dolan’s move comes about a month before a scheduled hearing in the case.
In his lawsuit, Halpern claimed that he started to develop the idea of hailing a cab using a smartphone and its GPS data in 2003. He says he later met Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, then working on a different project, and began discussing his ride-hailing company with Kalanick. Halpern says Kalanick and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp then stole his idea and went on to build Uber, which launched in 2009 and is now one of the world’s most valuable venture-backed startups.
“These claims are completely baseless. We will vigorously defend against them,” an Uber spokesperson told Fortune in a statement after Halpern’s lawsuit was first filed. Uber also pointed out that Halpern waited several years to file his lawsuit, long after Uber’s success had become well-publicized.
Dolan isn’t revealing more details about why he’s leaving the suit. But his exit does raise some questions about the future of Halpern’s lawsuit, especially considering Halpern unsuccessfully sued Anu Shukla, founder of Offerpal (now Tapjoy), for allegedly helping create the company and cutting him out before it was formally founded and launched back.
In any case, Uber must be relieved to see Halpern’s lawsuit begin to unravel. Were it to fall apart completely, it would mean one less thing off the company’s legal plate, which currently includes a massive case over its classification of drivers as contract workers as well as bans in certain cities and countries around the world.