Uber Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed After Driver Exposed Himself to Mother and Her Daughters
A Maryland woman has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Uber, saying the company’s lax approach to safety led to a driver assaulting her and her daughters.
The complaint (PDF) was filed on October 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe LS 266, names Uber Technologies, Inc. and Rasier, LLC as defendants.
The claim joins a growing number of Uber sexual harrassment lawsuits filed against the popular rideshare service by passengers nationwide, as well as claims involving sexual assaults and rapes. However, each raise similar allegations that Uber failed to take steps that could have protect passengers using their app, by failing to put proper safety measures in place to prevent passengers from being assaulted by drivers.
Although Uber implemented “Safe Ride Fees” in 2014, the Uber sexual harassment 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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The lawsuit identifies Jane Doe as a woman above the age of 18 from Maryland. In April 2020, she ordered an Uber to take her and her daughters to their destination. However, when the group arrived at their destination, the driver exposed himself to the woman and her daughters.
“The Uber driver who perpetrated the above-described assault, sexual assault, and/or attack on Doe 266 in the course and scope of his employment with Uber and while he was still under Uber’s direction and control,” the lawsuit states. “These acts caused Plaintiff pain and suffering that persists to this day.”
According to the lawsuit, Uber has been aware of an alarming number of reports involving sexual harassment, assaults and other problems involving drivers, but has focused more on protecting its image than it has to make rides actually safer.
Uber Kept Safe Ride Fee Profits
The lawsuit notes that Uber has charged the “Safe Ride Fee” of $1 since 2014, which was supposed to be earmarked for added safety measures. However, those measures never appeared, and the rides did not get any safer, the lawsuit claims.
“Uber gave hundreds of millions of rides with the Safe Ride Fee attached to them and made hundreds of millions in revenue from the fee. But it never earmarked the money for improving safety or spent it on safety,” the lawsuit indicates. “Instead, it pocketed the money it told the world it was putting toward safety.”
Her lawsuit presents claims of general negligence, common carrier negligence, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, design defect, failure to warn, and vicarious liability for the torts of Uber drivers, false imprisonment, sexual assault and sexual battery.
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 Judge Charles R. Breyer in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California earlier this month, 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 sexual harassments and 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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