Uber Rape Lawsuit Accuses Rideshare Service of Putting Profits Ahead of Passenger Safety
A Maryland woman indicates in a recently filed lawsuit that she was raped by her Uber driver, because the rideshare service failed to put adequate safety features or background checks in place, to make sure Uber drivers were not sexual predators.
The complaint (PDF) was filed on October 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by a woman identified only as Jane Doe LS 177, pursuing damages from Uber Technologies, Inc. and Raiser, LLC as defendants.
The plaintiff joins a growing number of users of the rideshare service who have filed similar Uber sexual assault lawsuits in recent months, each alleging that Uber failed to protect users of their app or discover facts that should have led the company to know drivers are sexual predators.
Although Uber implemented “Safe Ride Fees” in 2014, the Uber rape lawsuits indicates that the company 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.
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According to the complaint, the plaintiff ordered a ride through the Uber app in December 2018. However, when the driver should have dropped her off at her requested destination, he instead followed her inside and raped her.
The lawsuit notes that Uber has derived monetary gain and profit from numerous rides where passengers were sexually harassed, assaulted and raped, but has done little to prevent the attacks. Uber has known about the attacks for years, the complaint notes, saying that the company’s officers, directors and managers acted with “conscious disregard to the safety of future female passengers”.
The plaintiff says the company knows it provides an unsafe form of transportation, but takes little to no action to protect its female passengers and has tried to hide the scope of the problem from consumers.
“This depraved and disgusting attack frightened, humiliated, degraded, violated, and robbed Plaintiff Jane Doe LS 177 of her dignity and personal safety,” the lawsuit states. “By failing to take reasonable steps to confront the problem of multiple rapes and sexual assaults of Uber passengers by Uber drivers, Uber has acted in conscious disregard of the safety of its passengers, including Doe 177, has breached its duty of responsible care, and has breached the implied and express covenants arising from its contract with its passengers.”
The lawsuit presents claims of general negligence, common carrier negligence, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, vicarious liability for the torts of Uber drivers, vicarious liability for false imprisonment, sexual assault and sexual batter, and strict product liability for design defect and failure to warn.
October 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 assault cases before one judge on October 4, transferring claims to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California 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 rape and sexual 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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