SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Twenty sexual assault victims are filing lawsuits against Lyft alleging that the ride share company is “a haven for sexual predators.”
The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday on behalf of the 20 victims who are from across the country.
The suit claims the San Francisco-based company ignores sexual abuse complaints and has not taken any concrete steps to improve safety.
According to the firm behind the lawsuit, Estey & Bomberger, eight of the 20 women were assaulted after Lyft was already sued by a 14 other victims on Sept. 4.
“During the last three months, Lyft had ample opportunity to make changes to ensure the safety of female passengers,” attorney Mike Bomberger said. “But instead of protecting women, the company chose to invest in a costly public relations campaign with no regard to safety.”
The firm now represents more than 100 Lyft and Uber sexual assault victims but said they believe the number of victims across the nation is in the thousands.
Lyft has provided the following statement to KRON4 in regards to the lawsuit:
“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 safety into every aspect of our work. That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.Lyft Spokesperson
This year, nearly one in five employees at Lyft have been dedicated to initiatives that strengthen the platform’s safety. In just the last few months, we’ve launched more than 15 new safety features — including daily continuous criminal background monitoring of all of our drivers, in-app emergency assistance to make reporting easier for riders, and mandatory feedback for rides rated less than four stars to ensure we are constantly tracking any level of problematic behavior by drivers. We’ve also partnered with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to roll out required sexual violence prevention education. Our work on safety is never done, and we will continue to invest in new features, protocols, and policies to ensure Lyft is the safest form of transportation for our riders and drivers.”
On Wednesday, the victims held a press conference to announce the lawsuit and describe what happened to them.
Below are their stories:
The first woman, a resident of Cartersville, Georgia, described the time she allegedly was sexually assaulted by her Lyft driver.
The victim says around 3 a.m. when she called for a Lyft, she was still intoxicated.
She says she decided to take a nap in the backseat but woke up moments later to her Lyft driver groping and raping her with his hands down her pants.
She says the driver wanted to take her to a hotel.
She was scared but told the driver she would need to grab her inhaler out of the car before going to a hotel with him.
During this time, the woman says she was ‘desperately texting’ her boyfriend who called police.
When police arrived on the scene, she was able to escape.
The victim suggests Lyft having every ride record in order to prevent this type of incident from happening again in the future.
She is trying to prevent other women from being in this situation and says not to trust Lyft when they say that they care about your safety.
On Feb. 10, 2019, the victim, a resident of Worcester County, Massachusetts, says she went to dinner and had a few drinks.
In order to avoid driving that night, she felt she was making the safe decision to order a Lyft.
When she got into the back seat of the Lyft, she says she turned her body in order to rest her head.
Not long into the ride, she says the Lyft driver told her she looked like a sad girl but she ignored it.
She says the driver raped her in the back seat that night. She thought he was going to kill her after the rape.
The street that they were driving on had bad cell reception and was dark.
The woman says she panicked and considered jumping out of the moving car.
As she pictured her family, she knew she had to fight for her life and punched and kicked the driver while the vehicle was moving.
After the fight, she says the Lyft driver tried to throw her from the car and slammed her wrists in the door and dragged her with the car.
She says the Lyft driver threw her purse, laptop and phone, drove over them and left her in a dark street.
The woman says she was left beat, bruised and emotionally scarred.
Police took her into the station and reported what had happened.
The victim says she was never notified by Lyft that the driver was taken off of the platform.
Recently, the Lyft driver pled guilty to rape and is serving time in jail.
Before he went to jail, the woman says he removed his ankle bracelet while awaiting trial.
She says when your rapist knows where you live and is not behind bars, it leaves the strongest people with fear of what will happen to them.
The victim is working to gain control of her life by fighting back against Lyft, just as she did with her driver.
She says Lyft needs to work harder to make their rideshare safe.
The third victim who told her story was accompanied by her husband, who says he witnessed his wife being kidnapped by the Lyft driver.
The couple from Los Angeles say the incident happened on Sept. 26, 2019 and the driver is currently in jail awaiting prosecution.
The woman says she went out after work for some drinks and soon became tipsy. Her friend decided to call her a Lyft and also called the woman’s husband to let him know what time to expect her to be home.
The victim says she believes she fell asleep in the Lyft because she does not remember much of the ride
She says at one point she woke up and the driver told her she was pretty. He also asked if she was married. She said yes and showed him her wedding ring.
She says she fell asleep again and when she woke up, the driver was on top of her kissing and touching her.
She yelled get off of me and says something happened that made him jump up to the front seat of the car.
He began to drive off and wouldn’t tell him where he was going. She says she was terrified.
She says she woke up next to the sound of sirens and police lights. Her husband, who she called her hero and savior, ran to get her.
The husband says at first he was relieved when he heard his wife was on her way home but as the minutes ticked by he began to worry.
He called his wife’s friend who said her Lyft app claimed the victim had been dropped off 15 minutes earlier.
The husband was looking out the window when he noticed a strange car across the street. When he went outside, he saw a man jump from the backseat to the front and take off.
He says he could see his wife in the backseat.
“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” he said. “A stranger kidnapped my wife right in front of my eyes.”
He says he called police then got in his truck to try to find her.
About 40 minutes later, they found his wife and the driver not too far from their home.
He said it was a horrible ordeal that no one should have to go through.
The couple wants all Lyft rides to be digitally recorded, have more complete background checks, and cooperate with police.
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