The inception of app-based rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft aimed to facilitate safe and convenient transportation across the country. But budding litigation points to an “appallingly inadequate” response to a sexual predator crisis that has led to many cases of rape and assault of rideshare passengers.
Harassment, Rape & Assault Reflect Lyft’s Lax Rules Against Misconduct
In California, seven women filed lawsuits against Lyft on August 1, 2019 after they were sexually assaulted by their drivers. The allegations range from harassment, stalking, assault, rape, battery, and other horrendous offenses. One plaintiff’s Lyft driver attacked and raped her after bringing her to her own home from a night out in San Diego. Elsewhere in California, another plaintiff was kidnapped, raped, sodomized, and assaulted inside the Lyft driver’s home.
These allegations are in stark contrast to Lyft’s so-called efforts to create “… a community that works hard to make every ride a welcoming and safe experience.” Lyft partnered with It’s On Us, a White House-led initiative to end sexual assault, and collaborated on its Spring Break initiative. Lyft passengers received free rides during the 2015 spring break season to help travelers find safe rides home.
But the August 1 complaints allege that behind the scenes, Lyft continues to hire drivers without performing thorough background screening or adequate driver monitoring to protect its passengers. Lyft also does not have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct; drivers who have been reported for misconduct have continued driving for the company. There is even a chatroom of rideshare drivers “… where they openly discuss and brag about the access that they have to ‘hot’ young women.”
Lyft’s primary competitor, Uber, is not without blame. Last year, Fox5 San Diego reported on several rape cases involving Uber drivers in San Diego. In one case, an intoxicated woman got into the back of an Uber and passed out in the backseat, after which her driver raped her. After arresting the driver, police searched his computer and found videos of the man raping other women. In another case, an Uber driver pleaded guilty in San Diego to indecent exposure and false imprisonment of a passenger.
CaseyGerry attorney Jillian F. Hayes, named among the Top 40 Under 40 in 2019, specializes in sexual assault litigation. Hayes noted how the Me Too movement has brought new cases to light and has helped legal advocates like her assist more victims in holding their attackers responsible. It is our hope that the filing of these sexual assault lawsuits against Lyft and Uber will motivate more survivors of these crimes to come forward and seek justice.
Lyft and Uber Must Take Action Now to Better Protect Their Riders
Lyft and Uber are available in hundreds of cities and are increasingly easy to use. San Diego Airport, for example, recently adopted a new service that eliminates the difficulty that arriving passengers have faced in finding their Lyft drivers. These and other updates are further promoting the use of rideshare apps, which underscores the need for them to address their safety shortcomings. The sexual predator crisis could continue to grow if they fail to better protect their passengers.
CaseyGerry has the resources to take on particularly challenging cases and legal actions against large, powerful companies. If you or someone you know has been attacked by a Lyft or Uber driver, we welcome you to contact our firm for a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation.