Uber Must Face Rape Victim Suit Over Attacker’s Window Decal
(Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc. must face negligence claims by a woman who says she mistakenly got into a car bearing the company’s windshield decal and was subsequently raped by the driver.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley in San Francisco ruled Friday the woman could proceed on claims that Uber should have instructed the alleged assailant, a suspended driver for the ride-hailing service, to remove and return the decal. The victim claims the Uber logo gave her assurance she was getting a “safe ride.”
Corley’s decision reinstates the case based on an amended complaint. Uber got the original lawsuit dismissed last November after Corley decided the rape did not take place within the scope of the driver’s employment.
Uber declined to comment on Friday’s ruling.
The ruling comes as the ride-sharing industry, including Uber’s competitor Lyft, has faced scrutiny over passenger safety. A litany of sexual assault complaints by both passengers and drivers has pushed the company to take measures such as the introduction of a feature that allows users to text 911 from the Uber app.
Read More: Uber Passenger Says Decal Duped Her to Get Into Rapist’s Car
According to the complaint she filed in June 2019, the woman thought the car that picked her up at a San Francisco Bay area shopping mall in August had been dispatched by her fiance, but the driver took her to a secluded location and raped her. She claimed Uber knew the driver was a “menace to women” because it suspended him in June 2018 after a woman complained that he had “behaved disturbingly” while giving her a ride.
The driver had also previously been arrested or convicted of offenses including driving under the influence of a controlled substance, vehicle theft, vandalism, assault and domestic violence, the woman alleged. She did not identify the driver, but the details match those of a criminal case against former Uber driver Brandon Sherman, who is facing kidnapping and rape charges in San Mateo County, California.
Corley rejected Uber’s argument that negligence claims were barred because a California law regulates the use of decals. The company failed to show how a finding that it “should not have authorized the assailant to use its trade dress and should have retrieved the trade dress when it terminated him upon learning of his conduct would undermine” the state law, the magistrate said.
She dismissed the woman’s claims of false imprisonment, assault and battery “by an ostensible agent.”
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