Lyft Sexual Assault Lawsuit Filed Over Failure to Prevent Predators from Raping, Attacking Women
Lyft faces a sexual assault lawsuit brought by a passenger who indicates she was raped repeatedly by one of the rideshare service’s drivers, resulting in pregnancy and a child.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Tabatha Means on January 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, pursuing damages from Lyft Inc., as the defendant, claiming that the rideshare company failed to take basic measures to protect its passengers, such as background checks for its drivers.
Means indicates she requested a ride in April 2019 through the Lyft app while intoxicated. She told the driver she was not feeling well and needed to get home.
Instead, the driver began complimenting her looks, and indicated she shouldn’t be out alone. However, when the Lyft driver pulled up to Means’ destination, he began trying to grope and kiss her, and followed her inside her residence, despite Means asking him not to do so.
Once inside, the lawsuit indicates the Lyft driver raped her repeatedly by force, raising allegations that the rideshare company should be held responsible for exposing riders to sexual predators, and presenting claims similar to those outlined in a number of Uber sexual assault lawsuits filed in recent months.
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“Plaintiff was crying throughout this prolonged sexual assault. She didn’t scream out, for fear that he would hurt her further after raping her. Once Lyft’s driver finished raping Plaintiff for the second time, he put his clothes back on and left her residence,” the lawsuit states. “Approximately one month after the Lyft driver raped her, Plaintiff suspected that she was pregnant after she was late for her monthly period. Plaintiff then took an at-home pregnancy test which revealed a positive result.”
The lawsuit indicates Means carried the child to term, suffering a number of pregnancy complications. Florida Child Support Services obtained a DNA sample from the Lyft driver, which indicated he was the father of Mean’s son.
Lyft Driver Sexual Assault Could Have Been Prevented
Lyft actively markets itself as a company that provides safe transportation for consumers, according to the lawsuit. However, Means indicates that, in actuality, Lyft fails to perform even basic safety measures such as background checks on its drivers, does not run fingerprints of its drivers, and does not check the applicants against available public databases.
The lawsuit notes that Lyft actively lobbies and has successfully persuaded lawmakers in several states to keep its background check requirements limited.
“Lyft failed to take reasonable precautions to protect its vulnerable female passengers, including Plaintiff, from the foreseeable and known risk of assault and/or harassment by its drivers,” according to the complaint. “If Lyft had used the highest degree of care, Lyft could have prevented or reduced the likelihood of the physical and/or sexual assault of its passengers, including Plaintiff.”
Means presents claims of general negligence, negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, common carrier negligence, negligent failure to warn, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, strict product liability – design and failure to warn.
Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits
Similar allegations have been raised in hundreds of sexual assault lawsuits against Uber, a competing rideshare service, which has faced claims that it fostered a toxic male culture that placed profits before simple steps that could have improved safety.
The rideshare companies have actively marketed their services for young women to use to get home safely after having too much to drink, but concerns emerged as thousands of women reported Uber driver sexual assaults, which the company failed to address.
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, according to the lawsuits.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed against Uber in various different federal courts, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all Uber driver sexual assault lawsuits in October 2023, centralizing the litigation before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer in the Northern District of California, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation. However, no similar motion has been filed to consolidate any Lyft sexual assault lawsuits being pursued.
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