Uber, a rapidly expanding entrepreneurial venture intended to compete with traditional cab services, is facing lawsuits alleging Uber drivers sexually assaulted their passengers. In October 2015, a sexual abuse lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Uber patrons who allege they were assaulted by their Uber drivers on two separated and unrelated occasions. The most recent Uber sexual abuse lawsuit was filed yesterday in US District Court, Northern District of California, where Uber is headquartered. This most recent lawsuit was filed as a result of a rape that occurred in India in 2014 during an Uber ride and after it was revealed that her medical records were shared with the company’s leadership.
Founded in 2009, Uber is an American technology company based in San Francisco, California and operating in more than 500 cities worldwide. It develops, markets and operates the Uber car transportation and food delivery mobile apps. Uber drivers use their own cars, although drivers can rent a car to drive with Uber.
The 2015 lawsuit alleges in part,
In February 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts, Doe 1 and her friends used the Uber App to arrange a car ride after they had gone to dinner and then to a party. Uber driver Abderrahim Dakiri confirmed that he was on his way, and picked up Doe 1 and her friends. After Dakiri dropped off Doe 1’s friends first, Doe 1 gave Dakiri the address of her destination. Dakiri then began to sexually assault Doe 1. Dakiri did not take a direct route to Doe 1’s destination but drove more than 15 minutes off route “in order to increase his opportunity to sexually assault her.” Dakiri parked the car in a remote area and continued to sexually assault Doe 1 until she was able to unlock the car door and run away.
In August 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, Doe 2 and a group of friends got a ride from Uber driver Patrick Aiello, after Doe 2’s friend arranged the ride using Uber’s App. Aiello drove the group to a bar. He commented that he would like to give the group a ride home, and someone in the group asked Aiello if he would agree to pick them up later. The group later saw Aiello enter that same bar and observed him sitting at the bar during the night.
At the end of the evening, Aiello drove Doe 2 and a friend from the group back to her friend’s apartment. During the ride, Doe 2 mentioned that she could not find her phone and wanted to look for it at the apartment. Doe 2 “intended to collect her phone from her friend’s apartment and walk the two blocks home to her apartment.” After looking for her phone for five to ten minutes, Doe 2 left for her own apartment. When Ms. Doe 2 went outside, Aiello said he would drive her home. Still believing that Aiello was acting in his capacity as an Uber driver,” Doe 2 got into the car and gave Aiello her home address. Shortly thereafter, Doe 2 realized that Aiello was driving the wrong way. When she pointed this out, Aiello asked, “How are you going to pay me?” and told Doe 2 that she owed him a blow job. Id. Doe 2 tried to get out of the car, but Aiello had locked the doors. Aiello drove the car to a remote parking lot off a highway area where he proceeded to viciously rape her and threaten her with harm multiple times. Afterwards, Doe 2 was able to get onto the highway, crossed to the median, and then started running alongside the highway away from the parking lot. A car hit Doe 2’s arm while she was waving for help. The car then stopped and called 911. Police took Doe 2 to the hospital, where she became suicidal and was transferred to a psychiatric unit for three days.”
These two separate lawsuits demonstrate a careless disregard for Uber clients and the general welfare and safety of the public.
The first issue concerns Uber’s background check process which did not properly vet the drivers. In the first lawsuit, the Uber driver Abderrahim Dakiri had resided in the United States for less than three years. Driver Patrick Aiello had a previous domestic violence arrest, resulting in an assault conviction in April 2003. Aiello applied to become a driver for Uber in 2015. Uber’s background checks only review an Uber applicant’s history for the past seven years. That is clearly insufficient.
The second issue concerns the conduct of Uber executives in obtaining and sharing a client’s confidential medical records. Uber’s head of business in Asia Pacific, Eric Alexander, was fired last week after his part in acquiring and sharing the medical records was reported by Recode. The firing was a move separate from a massive sexual harassment investigation by Perkins Coie, an international law firm. So far that’s led to 20 employees getting fired.
Alexander had obtained the records back in 2014 and shared them with CEO Travis Kalanick and business SVP Emil Michael. The suit claims the company was looking into whether the rape was an effort to undermine the company by an Uber rival in India.
“Nothing was further from the truth,” the suit says. The driver was convicted for raping the woman.
The company had held onto the records for years. Now after an external review of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment more information about the company has been released.
This appears to be just the tip of the iceberg concerning Uber and sexual assaults and bad behavior on the part of Uber executives. If you or a loved one have been the victim of an assault by an Uber driver, call experienced sexual abuse Attorney Joe Saunders for a legal consultation.