Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuit Accuses Rideshare Company of Endangering Women and Girls
A Texas woman has filed a lawsuit indicating that she was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver, alleging that the rideshare company could have prevented the trauma through various precautions that would have been employed if Uber valued the safety of women and girls using the service.
In a complaint (PDF) filed on December 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Bronwyn Mouton says she was raped by her Uber driver in September 2017, because the rideshare service refused to employ even the most basic safety measures to protect passengers from sexual predators.
According to the lawsuit, Mouton was getting a ride home and having a conversation with the Uber driver, when he suggested she move to the front seat to continue talking. However, when the vehicle entered Mouton’s neighborhood, the driver then forced himself on top of her, asking if she had a boyfriend or anyone who would “come after” him.
The lawsuit indicates he then raped her in his vehicle. Mouton reported the attack to Uber and the police, but she joins a growing number of women and girls nationwide who say they are survivors of an Uber driver sexual assault. Dozens of lawsuits have been brought throughout the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that Uber failed to take steps that could have protected 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.
This problem is exacerbated by Uber’s practice of marketing its service specifically as a safe way for an intoxicated young woman to get home, the lawsuit notes.
“The safe image that Uber aggressively cultivates suggests to customers, including Plaintiff, that riding while intoxicated with Uber is safe. Uber does not inform riders, like Plaintiff, that hailing a ride after drinking puts riders in peril from the drivers themselves,” the complaint states. “By marketing heavily to young women who have been drinking, and promising safe rides, Uber puts riders in peril.”
Mouton 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 strict product liability failure to warn. She seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
December 2023 Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuit Update
Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in various different federal courts, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all Uber driver sexual assault lawsuits in October, 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.
Each individual Uber sexual assault lawsuit has been transferred to Judge Breyer for pretrial proceedings. It is expected that a series of bellwether trials will be scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
Following the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Beyer, if Uber sexual assault settlements are not reached to resolve large numbers of cases, each individual lawsuit may later be returned back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for trial in the future.
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