October 12th, 2015|
The popular – and controversial – smartphone-based taxi service, Uber, faces a lawsuit by two female passengers claiming their drivers sexually assaulted them. The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco, where Uber is based, on October 8.
The plaintiffs are identified only as Jane Doe 1 (from Connecticut) and Jane Doe 2 (from Florida), and were allegedly sexually assaulted in two separate, unrelated incidents.
The first assault occurred in Boston during the early morning hours of February 8, after a friend of Jane Doe 1 ordered an Uber car. After dropping off her friends, the Uber driver then traveled off-route, and began to grope and forcibly kissed Jane Doe 1 while stopped at a red light. Panicked texts from the woman to her friends showed her asking them to “call for help” because the driver was trying to rape her. She was ultimately able to unlock the car door and escape.
Boston Police arrested and charged Uber driver Abderrahim Dakiri with sexual assault. Dakiri passed two earlier background checks by Uber.
The second assault took place on the night of August 9 in Charleston, S.C. Jane Doe 2 was with friends when they used the taxi app to get a ride to a bar. Their driver followed them inside the bar, and later offered to take them home. The Uber driver dropped off the young woman’s male friends first, and then drove to a secluded parking lot where he “viciously raped” her, according to the suit. The woman escaped after the assault and called police.
Uber driver Patrick Aiello was charged by police in Charleston with the woman’s sexual assault.
Unfortunately, it appears that incidents like this are not as uncommon as one would hope. Uber has been plagued by allegations of sexual assaults on passengers as well as other unsavory actions by its driver in the United States and elsewhere. Late last year, authorities in Delhi, the capital of India, banned Uber following protests in response to a driver’s brutal rape of a female passenger. This woman filed suit against Uber in U.S. federal court in California in January.
The lawsuit filed October 8 argues that the numerous sexual assaults by Uber drivers reflect systemic problems with Uber’s safety measures, and are the direct result of “negligence, fraud, and misleading statements” on the company’s part. As far as “misleading statements,” the suit claims that “by marketing heavily toward young women who have been drinking while claiming that rider safety is its #1 priority, Uber is instead putting these women at risk.”
“Uber’s claims of rider safety have proven to be false and hollow. Investigations into its safety measures reveal that Uber routinely fails to adequately screen its employees and regularly hires drivers with known criminal histories, at the expense of its customers who are placed squarely in danger,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages as well as a permanent injunction against Uber to overhaul its safety measures.
Responding to the lawsuit, Uber released a statement defending its handling of the situation: “We proactively worked with law enforcement in Massachusetts and South Carolina at the time to share information and aid their investigations.” The two drivers involved in these cases have been fired.
Cory Watson Attorneys helps victims of sexual assault seek justice. If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, contact us today and ask us to help. Our phone number is 1-877-562-0000, or you can fill out a free consultation form by clicking the button below.