Uber drivers assaulted two different women in two different U.S. cities, a new federal lawsuit is alleging. The unidentified women claim that they were sexually assaulted by drivers for the networked transportation solution in Boston and Charleston, S.C.
The lawsuit blames poor background checks by Uber for making the assaults possible. The suit alleges that the checks, which are apparently conducted by a company called Hirease LLC, are not stringent enough. In particular, the suit filed by New York law firm Wigdor LLP and Jamie C. Couche of Anderson & Poole P.C. in federal court in San Francisco charges that Hirease did not perform criminal background checks on Uber drivers.
The lawsuit complaint puts the spotlight on Uber’s efforts to market itself as the best option for a safe ride home after a night of drinking. Among other things, it notes that Uber commissioned a report from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (or MADD) as an effort to promote its services.
It notes that Uber gives out swag at concerts that contain such questionable taglines as “Drink Up & Uber On.” The gist of the suit, Doe 1, et. al v. Uber Technologies, Inc., is that Uber markets itself as a safe option for young women enjoying a night on the town.
Uber Driver Charged with Vicious Rape
The suit cities an Uber driver named Patrick Aiello as an example of the “safe ride home.” Police in Charleston, S.C. allege that Aiello viciously raped a 23-year-old woman while driving for Uber in that city, The Post and Courier newspaper reported.
Aiello allegedly raped the woman, who was drunk, after picking her up from a local bar on Aug. 10, The Post and Courier reported. Aiello was booked in the county jail on charges of kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual assault in relation to the incident.
After raping her, Aiello allegedly dumped the woman on the highway and drove off. To add insult to injury, the woman was apparently hit by another vehicle on the Savannah Highway. Ironically enough, Aiello was working as a sixth-grade teacher at a local middle school at the time of the assault.
The suit is seeking unspecified damages from Uber, which told Ars Technica that it had permanently removed both drivers from its platform.
The suit also wants Uber to offer 24/7 customer support in cities it operates, disable child lock features on cars, require video cameras and GPS tracking cars, and perform annual criminal background checks on all drivers. Naturally, that would probably cost a fortune and make Uber’s business model unsustainable.
A cheaper and smarter feature that Uber could implement is also requested by the suit: the ability to have users request a female driver. That, of course, opens up another potential can of worms for networked transportation services like Uber. What happens when male passengers assault the female Uber driver?
That also sounds like yet another lawsuit. One has to wonder how Uber can stay in business with all these potential lawsuits and how it can make money when faced with constant lawsuits.