- Laura Buckman/Reuters
- 20 women filed a lawsuit against Lyft on Wednesday, accusing the company of not doing more to prevent attacks by drivers.
- The plaintiffs say they were attacked during Lyft rides in the time since a similar group filed a lawsuit in September.
- A Lyft representative said what the women describe shouldn’t happen to anyone, and that the company is “continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.”
Twenty victims of rape and sexual assault filed a lawsuit against Lyft on Wednesday, accusing the ride-hailing firm of not doing enough to prevent attacks on riders by drivers.
It’s the latest in a string of allegations from victims, mostly women and now numbering more than three dozen, against the company. In a September lawsuit represented by the same lawyer, 14 women accused Lyft of abetting a “sexual predator crisis” on its platform by not taking simple steps that could have prevented many attacks. That case is ongoing.
In both instances, victims allege that Lyft knowingly “continued to let sexual predators drive and interact with vulnerable members of the public.” Wednesday’s complaint also claims the sexual assaults in the new lawsuit have occurred since that first complaint was filed.
“During the last three months, Lyft had ample opportunity to make changes to ensure the safety of female passengers,” Mike Bomberger, the victims’ attorney, said in a press release. “But instead of protecting, women, the company chose to invest in a costly public relations campaign with no regard to safety.”
In one instance, an anonymous victim claims she was raped by a driver in Los Angeles. When her ride arrived at her home, the complaint says, the passengers’ husband realized his wife was slumped in the backseat and saw a man leave the backseat. The driver was later arrested, the lawsuit says.
“There is a corporate culture at Lyft that refuses to fix a known sexual-assault problem. This sends a message to drivers that there is no accountability for sexual assaults,” Bomberger said.
The law firm, Estey & Bomberger, says its now representing more than 100 sexual-assault victims with claims against Uber and Lyft.
A Lyft representative responded with the following statement:
“What these women 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.”
Safety has been the focus of many Lyft product announcements since the company’s underwhelming initial public offering earlier this year. In September, it announced mandatory safety education training for all drivers, as well as an emergency button in the app, and a “smart trip” feature that can check in with passengers if a ride appears to be delayed or off-course.
“We are increasing investments in proprietary telematics to monitor driving behavior like speeding and hard braking and just other driving habits that indicate riskier behavior,” Brian Roberts, Lyft’s CFO, said on an call with analysts analysts in October.
“It’s obvious, safety is just so important to us and just the overall Lyft community.”