Two female passengers sue Uber, alleging rape
Claimants: Customers are misled about screening of drivers, insurance coverage
Two women, including one from California, are suing Uber after they were allegedly raped by drivers for the ride-hailing company.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday, claims that Uber doesn’t adequately screen its drivers and misleads consumers about the service’s safety and insurance coverage, placing thousands of women at risk.
“Uber has created a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims,” the lawsuit states. “Specifically drivers have the means and opportunity to veer off route without detection, trap passengers inside their vehicles and commit physical and sexual violence without witnesses.”
The lawsuit alleges the company violated state laws by misleading customers about the safety of its service. It claims Uber not only failed to warn passengers about its flawed background checks, but that it doesn’t adequately track its drivers’ conduct after they’re hired.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit is seeking class-action status for all Uber passengers in the United States who were “subject to rape, sexual assault or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years.”
The two women, who were not named in the lawsuit, are not only seeking damages for their alleged rapes; they want the company to take steps to prevent this from happening again.
Uber should be required to implement stricter and more thorough screenings of potential drivers, provide insurance coverage for riders, and monitor drivers who go off route or turn off the app during a ride, according to the lawsuit.
An Uber spokesperson said the company is reviewing the lawsuit.
“These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously,” Uber said in an e-mailed statement.
The plaintiffs, represented by San Francisco law firm Anderson & Poole and New York-based Wigdor LLP, allege that Uber has shown women it values profits over the safety of its consumers.
One of the women, who lives in Florida, claims that she was raped by an Uber driver in October 2016.
After a night of drinking, the woman and her friend ordered an Uber ride and were picked up a driver who had been charged with a felony in Miami, the lawsuit alleges.
The driver, Nimer Abdallah, carried the woman — who was barely conscious
after having two drinks — upstairs to her apartment and allegedly raped her, the lawsuit states. Abdallah was arrested that month and charged with two counts of sexual battery, according to the lawsuit.
The other plaintiff, a Los Angeles resident, was also intoxicated when she booked an Uber ride to take her home from a restaurant in January 2017.
The driver Miguel, whose last name is unknown, allegedly sexually assaulted her in the car, followed her into her home and forced her to have sex with him before leaving, the lawsuit states.
But what these women allege happened to them are not isolated incidents. The lawsuit cites other cases of sexual assault and public tweets about Uber drivers during the #MeToo campaign, where women shared their stories about sexual harassment.
“A litany of incidents regarding sexual assaults, and physical assaults, by Uber drivers on passengers, shows a pattern of similarly heinous, but avoidable attacks,” the lawsuit states.