14 sexual assault survivors sue Lyft claiming negligence, obstruction

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX/CNN) - Fourteen women are suing the ride-share company, Lyft.

Woman in several states have filed a lawsuit against Lyft, accusing them of not prioritizing rider safety and stonewalling investigaitons. (Source: KPIX/CNN)

They accuse Lyft of mishandling claims of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and rape against company drivers.

The women, who are listed anonymously in the complaint, said the company is negligent in background checks and fails to use technology that would protect passengers. They also claim Lyft is stonewalling investigations.

“It’s becoming more and more apparent that Lyft can’t be trusted to police themselves,” said a woman who only wanted to be known as Kim, who says she was assaulted by a Lyft driver in December of last year.

She reported the incident to Lyft, and the company said it would investigate.

“Lyft never returned my calls and sent me four emails in a span of nine months, one of which was an automated response,” Kim said.

Even after the driver was convicted of battery, Kim said Lyft refused to tell her whether he was still driving for the company.

She's one of the 14 women who are suing Lyft for failing to protect them from assault and rape.

According to the lawsuit, the company refuses to go after predatory drivers because that would hurt its bottom line: “The more Lyft drivers and Lyft rides equals more money Lyft makes. Unfortunately, more careful screening and supervision would result in fewer drivers and lower profits.”

They say when victims do report assaults to police, Lyft requires a subpoena or court order before they’ll give even basic information about the driver.

“We know from what the officers that are doing these investigations have told our clients is that Lyft has not been cooperative with their investigation,” said Michael Bomberger, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs want Lyft to take safety precautions like more thorough background checks and having video cameras in all cars.

Gladys, another plaintiff who didn’t wish for her full identity to be disclosed, said a camera would have captured her being held captive by a Lyft driver for five hours last October.

“Video of a ride would have shown my driver grabbing my phone away from me and climbing into the backseat,” she said.

Lyft sent a statement saying, "What the victims describe is terrifying and has no place in the Lyft community. ... Our commitment is stronger than ever, as we dedicate more resources in our continued effort to ensure our riders and drivers have the safest possible experience.”

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