Lyft is facing a series of new lawsuits of failing to protect female passengers from rape by drivers. The December legal actions are part of a mass tort lawsuit initiated in August 2019 by 20 women alleging sexual assault by Lyft drivers.
A trial has been scheduled for January 2022. After the case began, several dozen women joined and lawyers for the plaintiffs plan to add hundreds more alleged victims.
Every plaintiff has their own story to tell. Plaintiff “Jane Doe 10” claims she was 15 when she took a Lyft ride in Dallas in October 2019. The driver raped her and made her take the morning-after pill before driving her home. Plaintiff “Jane Doe 9” claims she was out with friends in Chicago in 2018 and was raped at home by her Lyft driver. Another plaintiff alleges being raped by her Lyft driver at home after a ride from a bar in San Diego in January 2017. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damaged, including punitive damages.
According to five suits filed December 21 in San Francisco County Supper Court, “Since 2015, sexual predators driving for Lyft have continued to assault and rape Lyft’s female passengers. Even today, the hiring of Lyft drivers occurs without any real screening. The key to Lyft’s business model is getting as many new Lyft drivers on the road as possible.”
The five lawsuits are all identical, aside from the plaintiffs and circumstances of the alleged rape. They all claim the company knows it has a “sexual predator crisis,” but has failed to implement the necessary safety procedures.
In response to the lawsuits, Lyft released the following statement to Mercury News: “What these women describe 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. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in our work to build safely into every aspect of our work.”
In regard to its screening policy, Lyft claims to conduct initial and annual criminal background checks of all its drivers. It also conducts continuous criminal monitoring and continuous driving records checks in an attempt to identify and remove unsafe drivers.
Uber has also faced a number of allegations that it doesn’t protect female passenger from sexual assault. After admitting in 2019 that thousands of sexual assaults were reported during rides, Uber was fined $59 million for allegedly defying demands by California regulators for details about the reported attacks and related responses.