On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Wigdor LLP filed yet another lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. to hold it accountable for the actions of one of its drivers who purportedly sexually assaulted a female passenger.
The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, follows a proposed class action lawsuit filed by Wigdor LLP alleging that countless female riders have reported rapes, sexual assaults and gender-motivated violence at the hands of their Uber drivers, yet Uber has done nothing to make rides safer.
As set forth in the new lawsuit, the Plaintiff—named Jane Doe to protect her identity—alleges she was raped by her Uber driver, Iosefo Auvaa, in Long Beach, California. Although Ms. Doe hailed the Uber because she believed it to be “the safe choice” after a night out, she was horrified to discover that she had put herself in grave danger by doing so, the complaint alleges.
The complaint further alleges that Auvaa had a documented history of sexual and gender-motivated violence, including being charged in 2006 with domestic battery and “annoying or molesting a child under 18.” Also as alleged, as recently as December 2009, a California court granted a temporary restraining order against Auvaa in connection with allegations of sexual abuse of a minor family member.
Uber markets itself extensively as the best option for a safe ride home after a night of drinking while failing to administer stringent backgrounds checks, thereby risking the safety of its passengers, the lawsuit alleges.
The new lawsuit echoes many of the allegations brought forward by the proposed class action against Uber. For example:
- Uber operates on a “profits over safety” business model;
- Uber’s “woefully inadequate” background checks ensure that Uber is able to profit at the expense of the safety and well-being of its passengers—especially women;
- Uber falsely labels itself as a “technology company” instead of a transportation company in order to avoid regulatory scrutiny and retain profits;
- Uber has saved “millions of dollars” by falsely labeling its drivers as independent contractors instead of employees; and
- Uber misleads consumers about insurance coverage for rides in order to save money.
The Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, including requiring Uber to implement policies and procedures that will better protect passenger safety.
The Plaintiff is represented by Wigdor LLP Partner Jeanne M. Christensen, Associate Elizabeth J. Chen, and Girard Bengali, APC Partners Robert J. Girard II and Omar H. Bengali.
Statement from Jeanne M. Christensen, Partner at Wigdor LLP, Robert J. Girard II and Omar H. Bengali, Partners at Girard Bengali, APC:
“Despite his documented troubling background, Uber allowed Auvaa to transport passengers, including Ms. Doe, for a fee paid to Uber. We are confident that a jury will hold Uber accountable for this horrific and senseless violence. Uber must take immediate action to prevent another tragedy like this from happening again.”