The lawsuit is seeking compensation for rapes, assaults, and harassment that riders have experienced - specifically passengers who were "subject to assault or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years".
"In our complaint filed today against Uber, the allegations show that Uber's model of profits over safety has caused countless numbers of female riders to pay the price for Uber's shameless failure to act", the plaintiffs attorney said in a statement. The suit cites numerous cases of rape, violence and sexual assault- along with screening lapses in Maryland and MA - as evidence of its claim that Uber has prioritized profits over the safety of its passengers.
The women say they were assaulted by their drivers and claim the ride-hail company has engaged in unlawful and "fraudulent" conduct that misled them into believing their drivers would safely transport them. Buttoning up these legal issues, and cutting its financial losses, will become increasingly imperative as the company prepares to go public in the next 18 to 36 months.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Uber of repeatedly fighting efforts to improve customer safety in states across the country and names MA and Maryland as examples where its failures to adequately screen drivers were allegedly exposed.
Internal customer support documents obtained from Uber in 2016 showed that more than 6,000 driver or rider complaints include the term "sexual assault", although Uber claims the actual number of assaults is far lower. In an earlier round of checks dating back to December 2015, the state rejected more than 4,000 applicants in a pool of 74,000 drivers. In addition, the women are asking the court to order an injunction against Uber that would force Uber to change its screening practices such as background checks for its drivers, among other things. Among them, 1,599 had histories of violent crime and 51 were registered sex offenders, the lawsuit says.
Is gun maker liable? Court takes up Newtown shooting case
Families of nine victims who were killed and a teacher who survived the shooting sued. Negligent entrustment is specifically excepted from the 2005 gun maker shield laws.
The plaintiffs say the screening inconsistencies highlight the "faulty and defective quality" of Uber's driver screening.
Uber has been beleaguered by dozens of issues over the past year. Commission staff had been applying a broader vetting criteria until late last month, the company argued. Female drivers also said that passengers had sexually harassed them. Another Uber driver allegedly picked up passengers between shootings. That lawsuit alleged that Uber mishandled the incident and that company executives improperly accessed her medical records because it doubted her account of the incident.
It's been a tumultuous year for the ridesharing company. In June, Uber's board of directors forced CEO Travis Kalanick to resign.
The lawsuit also gets into other controversies facing Uber.
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