Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits Filed By Nearly Two Dozen Rideshare Passengers in Federal Court System

Plaintiffs say Uber failed to conduct adequate background checks on drivers and failed to put video surveillance cameras in vehicles, amid other safety failures.

With similar allegations raised in a growing number of Uber sexual assault lawsuits being pursued in federal courts nationwide, a group of plaintiffs are calling for the claims to be consolidated before one judge for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

At least 22 Uber lawsuits over sexual assault have been filed against Uber in 11 different judicial districts, each making similar allegations that plaintiffs were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers. The complaints claim Uber has failed to take appropriate safety precautions that could have prevented sexual predators from targeting Uber passengers on a regular basis.

Although Uber implemented “Safe Ride Fees” in 2014, the lawsuits indicate that the company never used that money to actually make its passengers safer, providing only cursory background checks for 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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Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuits

A lack of passenger safety features and cursory background checks for drivers have resulted in an alarming number of rapes and sexual assaults by Uber drivers. Lawyers provide free consultations and claim evaluations.

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A group of plaintiffs filed a motion for transfer (PDF) on July 14, asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all of the Uber sexual assault lawsuits before one federal judge for pretrial proceedings in the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs say consolidation would reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and promote judicial efficiencies.

“The cases against Uber are premised on the fact that Uber failed to adequately vet its drivers and failed to take appropriate safety precautions once it had notice that a subset of Uber drivers were sexual predators and were sexually assaulting Uber passengers on a widespread basis,” the motion states. “The cases allege that Uber was aware of the problem but nevertheless failed to conduct appropriate background checks, failed to adequately train and supervise its drivers, failed to adequately respond to complaints about predator drivers, failed to adopt safety design changes in the Uber App, and failed to adopt standard safety measures such as video and audio surveillance.”

One of the plaintiffs filing the motion, Cynthia Crawford, filed a complaint (PDF) in May, indicating she was assaulted, battered and harassed by an Uber driver she was connected with through the company’s app. Crawford, of Arkansas, indicates she the Uber driver sexually assaulted her in February 2018, leading to a physical fight to escape the rideshare vehicles, which left her with a black eye and other injuries.

Her Uber sexual assault story is similar to other complaints filed in courts nationwide, and the motion indicates there may eventually be thousands of lawsuits filed by rideshare passengers who were also sexually assaulted or harassed, each raising common questions of fact and law against Uber.

If an MDL is established, each individual claim would be transfered to one U.S. District Judge for pretrial proceedings and a series of bellwether trial designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and tesitmony that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if Uber sexual assault settlements are not reached to resolve large numbers of claims, each individual lawsuit may later be returned back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for trial.

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