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Lyft failed to protect passengers from sexual assault, lawsuit claims

The company also failed report assaults to police, the lawsuit alleges, and may have allowed some of the men to continue working as drivers for the app, even after they had been convicted.   - Bloomberg
The company also failed report assaults to police, the lawsuit alleges, and may have allowed some of the men to continue working as drivers for the app, even after they had been convicted. - Bloomberg

Uber rival Lyft failed to protect passengers from sexual assault, a lawsuit has claimed.

The app-based taxi firm is being sued by 14 women who say they were assaulted or raped by drivers in the US.  Among the complainants in the case is a blind woman who was raped by her driver after he followed her into her home and hid her cane. 

In another case, a driver locked the doors shortly after a female passenger entered his car and subjected her to a five-hour ordeal, driving her miles out of her way and raping and assaulting her, while smoking drugs.

The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco court, alleges that the firm could act to protect women by installing monitoring technology such as GPS trackers and cameras, or stricter background checks for driver applicants, but has "chosen not to do so" because it would impact upon profits. 

"Instead of taking a few basic and simple measures to prevent rapes and sexual assault of their passengers, Lyft has chosen to hide and conceal from the United States public the staggering number of reported rapes and sexual assaults that occur within their vehicles," the complaint says. 

The company also failed report assaults to police, the lawsuit alleges, and may have allowed some of the men to continue working as drivers for the app, even after they had been convicted.

In many of the cases police told victims the prosecution could not go ahead because they did not have enough evidence the assaults were not consensual, the lawsuit says, arguing that if Lyft had introduced changes such as a mandatory surveillance system this would not have been an issue. 

Lyft is being sued for the medical expenses of the victims, many of whom became suicidal and sought therapy after the attacks. 

Lawyers Estey & Bomberger also demand the company introduce mandatory annual anti-sexual harassment training for drivers.

Mary Winfield, Lyft's head of trust and safety, said: “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.”