Three Women File Lawsuit After Being Sexually Attacked By Uber Drivers
Uber Technologies, Inc. and Raiser, LLC face a lawsuit brought by three unrelated women, who each indicate they were sexually attacked by Uber drivers, after the rideshare company failed to conduct adequate background checks and deploy available safety features that could have protected passengers.
The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on November 1, presenting claims on behalf of plaintiffs identified only as Jane Roes CL 4 through 6.
The claim joins a growing number of Uber sexual assault lawsuits filed against the popular rideshare service by passengers nationwide, as well as claims involving sexual harassment and rape. However, each raise similar allegations that Uber failed to take steps that could have protect passengers using their app, by failing to put proper safety measures in place to prevent passengers from being assaulted by drivers.
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Although Uber implemented “Safe Ride Fees” in 2014, the lawsuits indicate Uber never used that money to actually make its passengers safer, providing only cursory background checks for Uber drivers. The company also failed to provide surveillance cameras inside of cars, did not allow passengers to make requests regarding the gender of drivers, and failed to train drivers on issues of sexual assault and harassment.
“As a result of prioritizing profits over passengers, Uber, at the direction of Uber’s officers, directors and/or managing agents, has made deliberate decisions to adopt inadequate initial screening procedures, inadequate safety monitoring, and has failed to warn customers of the dangers of riding with Uber,” the women’s lawsuit states. “Uber has falsely marketed itself as a safer, better alternative to other methods of transportation, particularly targeting young, intoxicated women and late-night riders with false representations that it enforces state-of-the-art safety policies and procedures.”
The lawsuit indicates that each of the women could have avoided being sexually attacked by Uber drivers if the company had taken steps to proactively address widespread problems that have been occurring for years.
Sexual Attacks During Uber Rides Could Have Been Prevented
According to the lawsuit, Jane Roe CL 4 ordered an Uber in Hawaii in November 2021 to go to a doctor’s appointment because she was using a cane and could not drive herself. The lawsuit indicates the driver verbally harassed her, then began rubbing her thighs and knees, until she yelled at him to stop.
He continued to stalk her for several days after the ride, even after she reported the incident to Uber.
Jane Roe CL 5 ordered her ride that same month in Chicago for a trip to the airport when she was also grotesquely assaulted by her Uber driver.
“During the ride, the Uber driver pulled the car over under the guise of inspecting his car saying he thought he hit something. Once on the side of the road, he opened her backdoor and masturbated, ejaculating onto her,” the lawsuit states. “She tried to escape but the child locks were on.”
Eventually she was able to climb out through the front of the car and escape, reporting the incident to Uber.
The third plaintiff, identified as Jane Roe CL6, ordered her Uber in February 2022 in Peoria, Illinois. While sitting in the car, the driver repeatedly attempted to rub her thighs, and laughed when she pushed his hand away. When she got out of the vehicle, the driver grabbed her, hugging her and trying to grab her butt.
She pushed him away, ran into the house, and told Uber about the incident.
November 2023 Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit Update
Given nearly identical allegations raised in a growing number of complaints filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to centralize all Uber sexual attack cases before Judge Charles R. Breyer in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last month, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
Survivors of sexual assaults by Uber drivers joined together to initiate the request for consolidating the litigation in July 2023, indicating that each of the claims involve similar questions of fact and law about the adequacy of Uber driver background checks and sexual assault precautions taken by the company. Plaintiffs argued that consolidation was necessary to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and promote judicial efficiencies.
As part of the coordinated management of the Uber sexual harassments and assault lawsuits, the parties will coordinate discovery into common issues that arise in each of the claims, including the failure to conduct adequate Uber driver background checks or take simple measures that could have prevented rideshare customers from being exposed to sexual predators. It is also expected that the court will schedule a series of early bellwether trials to gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims.
If the parties fail to negotiate Uber sexual assault settlements during the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Breyer may later remand each claim back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date in the future.
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