Fourteen women who said they were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted have filed a lawsuit against Lyft, one of the two top ride-share companies in the country. The lawsuit specifically cites fourteen cases of rape or sexual assault over a twelve-month period in 2018 to 2019. While each case is different, the details of each attack are horrifying, and Lyft’s handling of the women’s reports is what’s coming under fire in this particular lawsuit. Lyft has been accused of not doing enough to protect people who use the service, and Lyft’s drivers have been allowed to continue driving even after allegations of rape and sexual assault were reported to Lyft.
Horrifying Account of Rape
According to an article on buzzfeednews.com one of the plaintiffs, Gladys Arce of Fresno, California, spoke at a news conference on September 4th and said that she requested a Lyft pick her up from a Halloween party, but the driver locked the doors, said ‘I love you’ to her, terminated the ride in the app, and continued to drive her around, kidnapping her. According to Arce, the Lyft driver smoked crack inside the car and told her about other sexual assaults he had committed previously.
Arce said the driver grabbed her phone out of her hand, climbed into the backseat of the car with her, and assaulted her at which time, during the struggle, she broke a finger. The Lyft driver then drove Arce to a beach where he raped her. The entire attack took about five hours, she said. Arce reported the brutal rape to Lyft, yet the perpetrator continued to drive for the company. Another plaintiff, Kim, said she reported a sexual attack by a Lyft driver and never once heard back from the company about any investigation.
The attorneys handling the lawsuit of the fourteen women said that in their investigation of previous attacks, they found evidence of nearly 100 sexual assault complaints against Lyft drivers in an 18-month period in California alone.
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Speak Out
Attorney for plaintiffs, Mike Bomberger, said, “Lyft has shown a total disdain to making any changes that can increase the safety of their passengers.” Another attorney for the plaintiffs, Steve Estey, said, “Lyft covered up rape allegations and did its own internal investigation instead of reporting these allegations to police.”
The lawsuit against Lyft is calling for mandatory reporting of sexual assault complaints to local law enforcement. The lawsuit also calls for the installation of cameras in Lyft cars and for the addition of safety features to the Lyft app that would alert the company to any suspicious behaviors of its driver.
Response from Lyft
In response to the women’s lawsuit and comments made by plaintiffs on September 4 in Los Angeles, a Lyft spokesperson asserted that all driver applicants are screened for criminal offenses and must submit to an annual criminal background check by a third-party company, which includes a nationwide sex offender registry search. Lyft contends that its policy to is to conduct continuous criminal monitoring and that any driver who does not pass these screenings is barred from driving for Lyft.