The family of an Uber driver who was killed by a passenger has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland federal court against the rideshare company. The suit claims the killing was the result of inadequate passenger screening procedures.
The suit, brought by Tchakounte’s fiancee Carole Tchabert Tchatchoua and his three children, is seeking unspecified damages to compensate for their mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of economic support.
On August 27, 2019, Beaudouin Tchakounte was shot and killed by Aaron Lanier Wilson Jr. within minutes of picking Wilson up. Wilson also killed another passenger, Casey Robinson. Around 9:30 p.m., Uber’s app matched Tchakounte with Wilson, whom he picked up in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Robinson was already in the car because the passengers were using the UberPool function, which lets passengers pay less and share rides with others headed in the same direction.
Wilson has been charged with two counts of murder and is currently awaiting trial. According to the lawsuit, this was not the first violent incident incited by Wilson. In the late 1990s, Wilson pled guilty to robbery and was sentenced to five years in prison.
While Uber screens its drivers to ensure passenger safety, the surviving family members of the slain rideshare driver believe the company fails to take similar steps to screen passengers. The lawsuit claims drivers are discouraged from using their own judgment to avoid potentially unsafe situations because Uber penalizes drivers for failing to accept rides.
Passengers, on the other hand, only need to provide a phone number, email address, and payment method. In addition to that, Uber’s policies and procedures provide drivers with only minimal information regarding who is getting into their car.
Rick Scarola, counsel for the family, said his clients “suffered a tragedy that should have been avoided,” and released the following statement: “We also hope it will cause Uber and others to use their big data aggregations for the general good, rather than focusing on exploiting data collected from the public for its commercial value.”
Uber has faced multiple lawsuits regarding assault and safety; however, they’re typically brought on behalf of passengers. Uber has yet to comment on the wrongful death lawsuit.
In the event you’ve been injured in a rideshare incident or accident, or you’ve lost a loved one because of the actions of someone else, the Rideshare Law Group can evaluate your situation and determine if there are grounds for legal actions. Contact us today for more information.