Another five passengers sue Uber over alleged sexual assault incidents

Jul 14, 2022, 6:44 PM
An Uber sticker is seen on a parked car in New York City in February 2021. Five more passengers are...
An Uber sticker is seen on a parked car in New York City in February 2021. Five more passengers are suing Uber over alleged sexual assault incidents that occurred in recent months at the hands of drivers on its platform. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images via CNN)
(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — Five more passengers are suing Uber over alleged sexual assault incidents that occurred in recent months at the hands of drivers on its platform.

The lawsuit is the latest reminder of the flood of lawsuits that Uber and competitor Lyft face as they work to combat well-known safety issues on their platforms, especially for female riders.

The incidents detailed in a lawsuit filed this week in San Francisco County Superior Court took place between August 2021 to February 2022 in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California. They include: a plaintiff who alleges she was “digitally penetrated” by a driver who then attempted rape; another plaintiff who alleges she had her breasts fondled by a driver who then raped her; and another who alleges her driver “began masturbating in the driver’s seat” and then forced her to perform oral sex while he held down her head.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Jane Does by law firm Slater Slater Schulman LLP as a multiparty complaint to be litigated individually. The firm said it has retained roughly 550 clients who have claims against Uber; it is actively investigating about 150 others, it said. However, the firm said it has only filed lawsuits against Uber for a small number of these claims to date, or 24 cases.

Uber, in a statement, said the company does not comment on pending litigation, but that it takes “every single report seriously.”

“There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents,” a spokesperson said in the statement.

The lawsuit specifies that while Uber markets itself as a company that provides safe rides, it doesn’t make clear the known risks and limitations of its service to customers. “Uber does not inform riders … that hailing a ride after drinking puts riders in peril from the drivers themselves. By marketing heavily to young women who have been drinking, and promising safe rides, Uber puts riders in peril,” the lawsuit reads.

Slater Slater Schulman LLP is among several firms with practices targeting safety issues on Uber and Lyft’s services. A mass tort claim brought by firms like Estey & Bomberger and Levin Simes Abrams indicates there are more than 700 cases filed by other plaintiffs. Some cases Lyft is facing are slated to go to trial through a coordinated proceeding later this year.

The lawsuit comes two weeks after Uber released its second-ever safety report, in which it disclosed that it recorded 141 reports of rape in the United States in 2020 even as its ridership was decimated by the pandemic. Across its two safety reports, which cover 2017 to 2020, the company disclosed that it received 9,805 reports of the most severe categories of sexual assault, which range from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration,” or rape.

Uber notes on its website that as “the numbers in both reports show, critical safety incidents on our platform are, statistically, extremely rare.” Lyft, in a blog post accompanying its safety report released last year, said: “while safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many. Behind every report is a real person and real experience, and our goal is to make each Lyft ride as safe as we possibly can.”

Uber, followed by Lyft, initially pledged to put together a safety transparency report in response to a 2018 CNN investigation into drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse by passengers since 2014, based on publicly available data including police reports. After CNN began asking questions about sexual assaults, Uber announced new safety measures such as a partnership with RapidSOS, which sends a rider’s location and relevant information to a local police agency when the rider uses an emergency button in the Uber app. The company also revamped its approach to background checks. In March 2021, Uber and Lyft announced they would share the names of drivers who were deactivated over the most severe safety incidents.

Still, the lawsuit alleges Uber’s approach is inadequate. Among other measures, the lawsuit states that installing and requiring video cameras in cars would having a chilling effect on “the wantonness of potential predators.”

In response to CNN’s 2018 report, Uber, followed by Lyft, said it would no longer force into arbitration passengers who allege that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by drivers, which has paved the way for such claims to be filed against the company.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Tina Burnside, Kiely Westhoff and Amya Henry, CNN

Suspect in the shooting deaths of 4 people in Ohio was captured in Kansas

A suspect in the shooting deaths of four people at multiple sites outside of Dayton Ohio, has been arrested, police said.
1 day ago
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks at news conference following the weekly Senate D...
Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav, CNN

Senate begins ‘vote-a-rama’ to advance Democrats’ sweeping health and climate bill

The Senate on Saturday voted to advance Democrats' sweeping health care and climate bill toward final passage, putting the package on track to pass the chamber as soon as this weekend.
1 day ago
FILE - Police responding to a scene....
Associated Press

Alabama town disbands police department over racist text

A racist text message sent by a police officer has prompted officials in a small Alabama town to disband their police department and fire the police chief and assistant chief.
1 day ago
The US and Indian militaries will hold high-altitude exercises in Auli in the Indian state of Uttar...
Vedika Sud, Barbara Starr, Sahar Akbarzai and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

US to take part in military exercise near India’s disputed border with China

The United States is to take part in a joint military exercise with India less than 62 miles from their disputed border with China.
1 day ago
Barricades block off a portion of Elm Street in Laurel, Nebraska, where four people were found dead...
Rebekah Riess, Raja Razek and Jarrod Wardwell, CNN

Arrest in quadruple homicide after victims are found dead in 2 house fires in a small Nebraska town

The suspect in a Nebraska quadruple homicide where the victims were found dead in two separate house fires has been hospitalized with burns over much of his body.
1 day ago
Some of the women who were hanged during the Salem witch trials have been memorialized. (Stephan Sa...
Scottie Andrew, CNN

The last Salem witch has been exonerated, thanks to an eighth-grade teacher and her students

It's never too late to right a historical wrong -- even if that restoration of justice comes nearly 330 years later.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Another five passengers sue Uber over alleged sexual assault incidents