Woman Files Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit After Being Attacked by Driver
An Alabama woman has filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Uber, indicating that a driver forced her to give him oral sex after she requested a ride home using the company’s app.
The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on January 2, by a plaintiff identified only by the initials “M.C.”, who is pursuing damages from Uber Technologies, Inc, and Rasier, Inc. as defendants.
“As a common carrier, Uber is vicariously liable for the injuries its driver inflicted on its passenger,” according to the lawsuit. “In addition, Uber contributed to the attack on plaintiff by abandoning its utmost duty of heightened care toward its passengers, and instead adopting a culture that prized growth above all else, celebrated toxic masculinity, and exploited and engaged women and girls in conscious disregard for their rights and safety.”
The allegations mirror those presented in a growing number of Uber sexual assault lawsuits filed in recent months, primarily involving women who say they used the Uber app to order a ride, and then were attacked by the driver. The complaints indicate that Uber has 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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In the lawsuit, M.C. states that she requested an Uber ride to get home in January 2022. However, the Uber driver pulled up in a silver pickup truck and told her to ride in the front passenger seat instead of the back. Once inside the truck, M.S. indicates the Uber driver began touching her inappropriately, and then forced her to give him oral sex.
“As early as 2014, Uber became aware that Uber drivers were physically and/or sexually assaulting and raping female passengers,” according to the complaint, which points to a long history or reports involving known sexual predators driving for Uber who have assaulted, harrassed, kidnapped, rapes or otherwise attacked Uber’s passengers. “Uber’s response to these ongoing sexual assaults by Uber drivers has been slow and inadequate, and has put the lives and well-being of customers at grave risk.
Although Uber implemented “Safe Ride Fees” in 2014, the lawsuit indicates 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 lawsuit filed by M.C. and other survivors.
January 2024 Uber 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 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.
In response to the lawsuits, Uber filed a motion last month seeking a stay in all pretrial proceedings in the claims, while it asks an appeals court to reverse the JPML’s decision, saying consolidation was inappropriate because the attacks were perpetrated by individual third-party drivers, and should remain separate cases being pursued throughout the federal court system.
While the courts consider Uber’s request, each individual Uber sexual assault lawsuit has been transferred to Judge Breyer, who is ultimately expected to prepare a small group of representative cases for bellwether trials, to help 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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