SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A group of 20 more sexual assault victims came forward Wednesday to file a lawsuit against ride-hailing app company Lyft.
This is the newest of more than three dozen lawsuits the company faces.
The new plaintiffs said Lyft will not cooperate when it comes to disciplining predatory drivers. The lawsuit alleges Lyft deliberately conceals sexual assaults committed in their vehicles.
“This lawsuit claims that Lyft has concealed and hidden the staggering number of assaults and rapes that occur in their vehicles,” said attorney Mike Bomberger. “Lyft has known about this problem for the last five years and they’ve done nothing to fix it.”
Lawyers said Lyft allows drivers to keep driving for the platform, even when they assault customers.
On Wednesday some of the victims spoke out.
“They don’t care about their customers. They only care about their profit. Lyft demonstrated that when they ignored my assault,” said assault survivor Caroline Miller. “There was no apology, no phone calls or emails, no response.”
“I was left physically beaten, bruised and cut as well as emotionally scarred that night,” said another victim who was identified simply as Jane Doe 2. “The fear of walking into a house and asking for help will never leave me. The police took me to the station and I told them what happened. And no point was I notified by Lyft that this man was taken off of the platform.”
They want the company to do more thorough background checks in addition to pulling drivers accused of crimes off the app and responding immediately to such complaints.
In early September, 14 other unnamed women sued Lyft, alleging that the company “chooses to stonewall” law enforcement investigating assaults and that it fails to inform victims about the status of the drivers they’ve accused of sexual assault or rape.
In response, Lyft issued updates concerning its safety features. Its in-app 911 feature, first announced in May, is available to riders, the company said. It also made two other announcements that are promises for future features: It has partnered with anti-sexual assault nonprofit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network to create a mandatory safety exercise for driver applicants, and it is planning to add a feature to detect unexpected delays on trips later this year.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, a Lyft spokesperson said, “What these describe is something no one should ever have to endure. Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in our work to build safety into every aspect of our work. That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.”
The statement continued: “In just the last few months, we’ve launched more than 15 new safety features–including daily continuous criminal background monitoring of all of our drivers, in-app emergency assistance to make reporting easier for riders, and mandatory feedback for rides rated less than four stars to ensure we are constantly tracking any level of problematic behavior by our drivers.”
“We’ve also partnered with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to roll out required sexual violence prevention education. Our work on safety is never done, and we will continue to invest in new features, protocols, and policies to ensure Lyft is the safest form of transportation for our riders and drivers,” the statement said in conclusion.
The suit is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress and medical expenses.
The victims in the case are from all over the country. Their firm represents more than 100 sexual assault survivors with claims against both Lyft and Uber.