The lawsuit alleges the company has a "sexual predator crisis"

By Helen Murphy
September 05, 2019 11:49 AM
Lyft
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The rideshare company Lyft is being sued by 14 women who say they were sexually assaulted by their drivers, with a new lawsuit alleging the company has a “sexual predator crisis.”

According to the complaint, which was filed on Wednesday and obtained by PEOPLE, the lawsuit cites 14 sexual assaults or rapes of Lyft passengers between 2018 and 2019.

Lyft’s response to its “sexual predator crisis” has been “appallingly inadequate,” the lawsuit alleges, saying the the company “has failed to adopt and implement reasonable driver monitoring procedures designed to protect the safety of its passengers.”

The lawsuit also claims Lyft has failed to take precautions against the attacks, and allowed some drivers accused of assault to continue working for the company.

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One of the women, who was identified as Gladys Arce by USA Today, alleged in the lawsuit that she was kidnapped by a Lyft driver for hours before being raped. After she filed a police report, she found out that the man was still driving for the company.

A second woman in the lawsuit alleged that she was raped by a Lyft driver who then stole her phone to add a $25 tip to the ride. Six of the women cited in the lawsuit said they had fallen asleep in the car and woken up to find the driver sexually assaulting them.

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Attorney Mike Bomberger of Estey Bomberger, who represents the women, told PEOPLE he believes the lawsuit is important in order to “change the way [Lyft] does business.”

“They know how many assaults occur within their cars, they know they have an epidemic, but they haven’t taken any steps to protect women. There’s so many easy steps that they could take to do it but they just haven’t done it,” Bomberger said, pointing to safety measures including making sure drivers can’t turn off the Lyft app during a ride, and removing drivers from the company after they’ve been reported for assault.

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In a statement sent to PEOPLE on Thursday morning, Lyft’s head of trust and safety said the women’s allegations are “terrifying” and have “no place in the Lyft community.”

“One in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives — behavior that’s unacceptable for our society and on our platform,” the statement read. “As a platform committed to providing safe transportation, we hold ourselves to a higher standard by designing products and policies to keep out bad actors, make riders and drivers feel safe, and react quickly if and when an incident does occur. 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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