A 23-year-old disabled woman has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against rideshare company Lyft, alleging that her driver sexually assaulted her after she got a ride home from the grocery store. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the woman, identified as Cheyenne, said the driver assaulted her after she was taken home from a Ralph’s grocery store in La Brea.
Allegations of Rape and Assault
She said the driver offered to help her get her bags into her home. He attacked her in her patio, grabbing her face and trying to kiss her. Cheyenne said she pushed him away, but he grabbed her wrists and tried to force himself on her. She stated that the driver fled once she kneed him in the stomach and screamed. She also called 911 and Lyft to file a complaint but it is still unknown if the driver was ever caught or prosecuted. Cheyenne is one of many disabled people who depend on rideshare services to get to and from work.
This lawsuit comes on the heels of a class-action lawsuit brought by 19 women this week against Lyft, all alleging that they were sexually assaulted by its drivers. That lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court. One of the plaintiffs in that case told reporters she fought for her life as her Lyft driver slammed her wrists in his car door and dragged her with his vehicle. Another plaintiff said her driver groped and raped her.
In response to these lawsuits, Lyft officials said they have just launched 15 new safety features including daily continuous criminal background monitoring of all their drivers and in-app emergency assistance to make reporting for riders easy. But, plaintiffs’ lawyers say many of the accused drivers are still working for the company and that Lyft has hardly been responsive when victims have filed complaints alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by drivers.
A Common Problem with Rideshares
Both Lyft and Uber are facing numerous lawsuits from women alleging sexual assault and even men who have been assaulted and/or robbed when they got rides. Uber released its Safety Study this week, which showed 3,045 reports of sexual assaults during trips with nine people murdered and 58 killed in car accidents between 2017-2018. The numbers from 2017 demonstrate the same occurrences as well. Uber’s definition of sexual assault ranges from nonconsensual kissing and unwanted touching to rape.
There is no question that rideshare companies need to get their act together when it comes to keeping better tabs on their drivers and performing more rigorous background checks. Passengers who use these services should be able to have a minimum level of trust that they will not be violated or assaulted when they get in a rideshare vehicle. The manner in which Uber, Lyft and other rideshare companies have allowed their horrific incidents to occur is unacceptable.