Woman Charges Uber with Sexual Assault and False Imprisonment by Driver

On February 23, a Minnesota woman brought a lawsuit against ride-share service Uber, charging that the company does not adequately screen its drivers and that, after using an Uber service, the driver sexually assaulted her and held her against her will.

The woman was identified as “Jane Doe.” The driver was identified as Abdel Jaquez. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Was Uber negligent in hiring and screening?

The facts of the suit indicate that on August 5, 2016, the plaintiff and some friends used the Uber app to get a ride. The driver, Jacquez, gave the group his direct number to get in touch with him later in the evening, for a second ride.

During the second ride, Jacquez is alleged to have propositioned the plaintiff. After she refused, he grabbed her aggressively and committed a sexual assault.

The plaintiff’s suit claims Uber Technologies is negligent in its driver hiring and screening practices. It is alleged that a sufficient background check would have revealed that Jaquez had a prior arrest for a sexual crime against another person. The usual standard in the taxi industry is a thorough background check based on fingerprints. The charge alleges that, had Uber done such a check, the incident could have been avoided.

The suit states that Uber, as a transportation company and common carrier, is “directly liable for its negligent hiring, supervision, and retention of Jaquez, directly liable for its advertising misrepresentations holding out its transportation service as a safer alternative to taxis for women.”

The suit also states that the company “placed profits over safety by deliberately lowering the bar for drivers in order to rapidly expand its network of drivers and thus its profits.”

Growing evidence of Uber liability raises concerns

The case unfortunately joins a growing list of cases in which ride-share services like Uber and Lyft have been found guilty of negligence in screening their drivers. The drivers have been charged with a variety of actions, including murder, manslaughter, and rape.

At one point, the ride-share services were attempting to argue that the liability was borne by the drivers alone, as they are contractors and not employees. Courts, however, have increasingly found the companies liable for not conducting proper background checks.

In addition, the companies charge a safe ride fee intended to cover motor vehicle screenings and driver safety education.

Recently, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that Uber and Lyft do owe a duty to passengers. More stringent regulations make the responsibilities and potential liabilities of rideshare services more congruent with traditional taxi drivers. The responsibilities include regular vehicle inspections, more stringent and detailed background checks, mandated proof of liability insurance, and heightened transparency about past driver suspensions and deactivations.

Filing a lawsuit against a ride sharing company

Attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye understand ride sharing liability laws inside and out. We are experienced with laws concerning the ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. Our commercial vehicle accident lawyers guide plaintiffs through the process of filing Uber accident claims and help them pursue maximum compensation for their injuries and losses.  Call today for a free consultation today.

Additional Uber lawsuit resources

  1. Farivar, Cyrus. “Woman: After I Rebuffed My Uber Driver’s Advances, He Tried to Rape Me.” ArsTechnica, February 25, 2017. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/02/woman-sues-uber-claims-driver-with-prior-record-attempted-to-rape-her/
  2. Rosenblatt, Joel. “Uber Settles Lawsuit Over Driver Sexual Assault Claims.” Bloomberg, November 3, 2016. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-03/uber-settles-lawsuit-over-driver-sexual-assault-claims