Lawsuit Claims Lyft Faces “Sexual Predator Crisis” Amid Reports of Drivers Attacking Passengers

Lyft sexual assault lawsuit claims driver tried to lock the passenger in the back of the car while getting out to masturbate, exposing himself.

A Maryland woman has brought a lawsuit against Lyft, alleging she was sexually harassed and attacked by one of the rideshare service’s drivers, pointing out that it was not an isolated incident, but is part of a bigger problem with sexual predators working for the company.

The complaint (PDF) was filed in California Superior Court on April 17, by an anonymous plaintiff identified only as Jane Doe PWV 002, claiming that Lyft knew or should have known it was assigning the task of driving vulnerable passengers late at night to drivers that were not adequately screened, especially given a string of Lyft driver sexual harrassments and assaults reported to the company.

Both Lyft and Uber face a growing number of driver sexual assault lawsuits, involving allegations that passengers were harassed, groped, or even abducted and raped by drivers. Uber has faced the lion-share of complaints, with more than 200 Uber sexual assault lawsuits filed over the past year. However, a growing number of lawsuits are also now being filed against Lyft.

Plaintiffs point out that the rideshare companies have actively marketed their services for young women to use to get home safely after having too much to drink, but failed to enact simple steps to identify sexual predators, even after thousands of women reported sexual assaults to Uber.

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Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits

A lack of passenger safety features and cursory background checks for drivers have resulted in an alarming number of rapes and sexual assaults by Uber drivers. Lawyers provide free consultations and claim evaluations.

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As the Uber litigation emerged, Lyft had largely gone untouched by similar claims until this year. However, like its competitor Uber, Lyft actively markets itself as a company that provides safe transportation for consumers, the lawsuits note.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the woman identified as Jane Doe PWV 002 indicates that Lyft is failing to perform even basic background checks on its drivers, does not run fingerprints and does not check the applicants against available databases.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff requested a ride using the Lyft app in November. However, during the trip she noticed the driver was taking an unusually long route.

The lawsuit indicates he then stopped the vehicle on the side of the road, locked the plaintiff in the backseat and exited the vehicle. The plaintiff unlocked the car and got out, to find that the Lyft driver had exposed himself to masturbate before getting back in the car.

The plaintiff points to Lyft’s failures to secure passengers’ safety as even more egregious due to the proliferation of sexual predators among the drivers.

“Lyft’s response to this sexual predator crisis among Lyft drivers has been appallingly inadequate,” the lawsuit states. “Lyft continues to hire drivers without performing adequate background checks. Lyft continues to allow culpable drivers to keep driving for Lyft. And, perhaps most importantly, Lyft has failed to adopt and implement reasonable driver monitoring procedures designed to protect the safety of its passengers.”

The complaint presents claims for negligence, negligent hiring, retention and supervision, common carrier negligence, negligent failure to warn, liability for sexual assault and sexual battery, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional duress, breach of contract, and strict liability for design defect and failure to warn.

Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits

The growing number of Lyft sexual assault lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts in California. Similarly, Uber sexual assault lawsuits have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer in the Northern District of California, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Following coordinated general discovery in the Uber sexual assault lawsuits, it is expected that the court will select a small group of representative claims to go through case-specific discovery and be prepared for early trial dates, which will be used to gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

While the outcome of any bellwether trials in the MDL will not be binding on other claims, average Uber sexual assault lawsuit payouts awarded by juries may influence later settlement agreements. If no Uber sexual assault lawsuit settlement is reached, each individual claim may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a future trial date.

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