19 Sexual Assault Claims by Women Against Lyft
The number of lawsuits continues to rise as more women come forward alleging Lyft drivers have sexually assaulted them. The ride-sharing company previously announced it was stepping up criminal-background screening of drivers to occur daily following earlier lawsuit filings.
However, 19 additional women recently filed suit in Superior Court of San Francisco saying the popular transport company has failed to stop drivers from sexually assaulting them and then has completely ignored complaints. Per the lawsuit, Lyft has failed to enact even the most basic safety measures to prevent attacks. After receiving reports of the attacks, Lyft downplayed the seriousness and never followed up on the women’s complaints.
Possibly Covering Up?
The San Diego attorney who filed the new lawsuit, Michael Bomberger, had this to say, “It’s not just the fact that these sexual assaults happened. It’s about the cover-up.” In September 2019, he filed an earlier suit on behalf of 14 women who said they had been sexually assaulted by the company’s drivers. Bomberger said these women went to the police but discovered Lyft would not give authorities the needed information to assist with the investigation.
Per Bomberger, “Lyft doesn’t even tell our clients who the driver is, so they can get a temporary restraining order. What Lyft is doing on so many levels is done with the intent of silencing the victims and protecting their brand.” Lyft is based in San Francisco and competes with Uber (the other recognizable ride-sharing company) for passengers and drivers.
A Lyft spokesperson, Alexandra LaManna, responded to the suits by saying, “What has been described is something no one should ever have to endure. Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks.” She reports that 20 percent of the company’s employees have been focusing on initiatives that will strengthen the platform’s safety, resulting in at least 15 new safety features being introduced in recent months.
After the September lawsuit was filed, the company announced it had already been screening background reports daily to determine if any of its drivers have previously been arrested. In addition, Lyft touts its security measure in place that allows passengers to inform family and friends of their destination. However, attorney Bomberger believes Lyft should have been doing much more, such as using audio and video surveillance in vehicles, so drivers would know their actions are being recorded.
One of the First to File
Asking to only be identified using her middle name, Ann, a 39-year-old resident of Marlborough, Massachusetts, became one of the first to sue the company over sexual assault, according to reports. She wants Lyft to openly take responsibility for the assaults. “They just dismiss us. I just want them to acknowledge that they need to do something.”
After being out with friends and drinking in March 2018, she used Lyft to return home to her apartment. While heavily intoxicated, she was assisted by the driver up the steps to her apartment. Upon stepping inside, she was spun around by the driver whose hands were on her shoulders, and he then made her perform oral sex. A charge of rape has been filed against the driver, but he pleaded not guilty.
Ann’s overshadowing concern is that this man knows where she lives, and he himself lives in the same town. She is terrified that she may see him again. “I can’t stop. I can’t get gas in my own town. I can’t do anything.”
Victims Continue to Come Forward
Saying they’ve been assaulted by Uber or Lyft drivers, over 200 women have stepped forward, per Bomberger and a San Francisco lawyer, Rachel Abrams, who also filed a lawsuit against Lyft. According to Abrams, the female victims are between ages 20 and 40, and the alleged assaults happened while many of the women were drunk or unconscious. Bomberger reports that one victim is blind and another is autistic.
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- Sara Ashley O’Brien. “Lyft has been hit with more driver rape, sexual assault allegations”, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/04/tech/lyft-sexual-assault-lawsuit/index.html. Accessed December 6, 2019.
- Maria Cramer. “19 Women Sue Lyft as Sexual Assault Allegations Mount”, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/business/lyft-sexual-assault-lawsuit.html. Accessed December 6, 2019