A 25-year-old Indian woman, allegedly raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi last month, has sued the online cab service company in a U.S. Court for failing to maintain basic safety measures, including lax screening of its drivers, that led to the assault and humiliation. A PTI report by Yoshita Singh.
The woman – who has not been named in the 36-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of California against San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc., being identified as “Jane Doe” – has called Uber the “modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking.”
The online cab service, valued at $40 billion and operating through a mobile app in over 250 cities around the world, was banned from Delhi’s streets following the December 5 rape incident, that sparked safety fears throughout India.
The woman executive is seeking an unspecified amount in damages that should be determined at a jury trial and compensation for the “physical and monetary” harm and for harm to her “professional and personal reputations” the assault caused her.
The lawsuit said Uber’s “negligence, fraud and other unlawful actions” caused the woman’s sexual assault, which has “humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed” her of her dignity.
She is also seeking a permanent injunction directing that Uber take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the alleged unlawful conduct of the driver and to “prevent repeated occurrences in the future.”
Following the filing of the lawsuit, the victim’s lawyer, New York Attorney Douglas Wigdor said Uber’s focus on its “bottom line over the safety of its passengers has resulted in what can only be described as modern day electronic hitchhiking.”
“…We intend to hold Uber responsible for the significant physical and emotional harm it has caused to our client, while simultaneously seeking a court order mandating that Uber initiate certain safety precautions that they appear unwilling to do voluntarily,” he said.
Wigdor hopes the lawsuit will bring positive changes that will ultimately protect people worldwide who are unaware of the “serious risks of entering into an Uber car.”
Jeanne Christensen, a partner at Wigdor LLP, said Uber executives’ decisions to cut costs at the expense of customer safety forced the young woman to “pay the ultimate cost.”
“Her brutal rape by an Uber driver who was a known repeat sexual predator was a result of a global Uber policy that has far-reaching consequences. We intend to hold Uber accountable for violence that could easily have been avoided had even a minimal background check been conducted,” Christensen said.
Wigdor LLP added that the lawsuit seeks to “slam the brakes” on Uber’s reckless worldwide expansion at the “unfortunate expense of basic customer safety.”
It demanded that Uber must implement necessary safety measures, including opening dedicated 24X7 customer support centers in every city that it operates in, requiring all its drivers to install a GPS tracking system and tamper-proof video cameras besides providing woman drivers.