Uber on the Defensive: Will Motions to Dismiss Derail Rideshare Assault Lawsuit Juggernaut?

Uber and Lyft sexual assault lawsuits. Hundreds of passengers allege sexual assault by rideshare drivers. Lawsuit claims rideshare companies failed to implement sufficient safety measures.

Uber Faces Hundreds Of Rideshare Sexual Assault Lawsuits. The Company Seeks To Dismiss Some Claims, But Will It Be Enough?

Ride-sharing behemoth Uber faces a mounting tide of class action lawsuits from passengers alleging sexual assault by drivers. These lawsuits have been consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) for streamlined proceedings, overseen by Judge Charles R. Breyer in California. However, Uber is attempting to stem the tide by filing motions to dismiss several cases within the MDL.

Uber's defense strategy is a multi-pronged approach

On April 1st, Uber's legal team launched a multi-pronged attack, filing motions to dismiss six separate lawsuits. Here's a breakdown of their arguments:

  • State-Specific Challenges (California, Florida, Texas): Uber claims a prior class action settlement and unfair competition laws in these states render the lawsuits invalid. This tactic suggests Uber may believe some state laws offer them better legal footing.

  • Jurisdictional Dispute (Maryland Lawsuit): They argue the Maryland lawsuit, involving an assault outside the US, falls outside the court's jurisdiction. This tactic highlights Uber's attempt to potentially limit the scope of the MDL.

  • Weakness in Plaintiff Claims: Uber asserts the remaining motions target weaknesses in the plaintiffs' legal arguments, suggesting they may be looking for technicalities to dismiss some cases.

Plaintiffs have until April 30th to respond

Judge Breyer has imposed a deadline for plaintiffs to counter Uber's motions by April 30th. Uber then has until May 14th to offer a rebuttal. Following these exchanges, the court will hold a hearing to determine the fate of the dismissal requests.

Safety features: A belated response or stepping stone?

The core issue in these lawsuits centers on Uber's alleged negligence. Plaintiffs claim Uber failed to implement sufficient safety measures and conduct thorough driver screenings, despite documented instances of sexual assault. Investigations commissioned by Uber itself uncovered a shocking number of sexual assault reports against drivers between 2017 and 2020. This history of inaction casts a long shadow over Uber's defense.

Facing mounting public pressure, Uber finally rolled out several new safety features in April 2024:

  • RideCheck: Monitors trips for unusual detours or stops, prompting passengers to confirm their safety.

  • PIN Verification: Provides a four-digit code to ensure the driver matches the app profile.

  • Audio Recording: Allows passengers to record trips with secure storage, accessible to Uber only upon safety reports.

  • Share My Trip: Enables real-time location sharing with friends or family.

Lawsuit surge continues despite new measures

While these safety features represent a positive step, many see them as a belated reaction to years of inadequate passenger protection. The Uber sexual assault lawsuits keep piling up, with a new case filed on April 5th by a Massachusetts passenger. This latest addition brings the total number of cases in the Uber assault MDL to over 200.

The road ahead: Bellwether trials and potential settlements

If Uber's motions to dismiss are unsuccessful, the court will likely choose a small group of representative cases, known as bellwether trials. These trials will test jury reactions to evidence and potentially set the stage for future settlements across the entire MDL. The outcomes of these bellwether trials could significantly impact the overall landscape of the litigation.

It's important to remember that Lyft also faces similar rideshare sexual assault lawsuits, highlighting a potential pattern within the industry.

Case information and support resources

  • Rideshare Sexual Assault Multidistrict Litigation: In Re: Uber Technologies, Passenger Sexual Assault Litigation, MDL No. 3084 (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California)

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault related to an Uber ride since 2009 or a Lyft ride since 2012, it's important to know there are actions to help navigate the aftermath. Here are some resources, but remember, this is not a substitute for professional legal advice:

  • Get Medical Care Right Away: Your health and well-being are the top priority. Seek medical attention at a hospital emergency room or urgent care clinic.

  • Record Every Detail You Can Remember: While the experience may be overwhelming, try to write down everything you remember about the assault, including the date, time, location, and any identifying details about the driver or vehicle.

  • Talk to a Lawyer Who Knows the Ropes: If you believe you have a case, consulting with an attorney experienced in sexual assault lawsuits, particularly those involving rideshare companies, can be crucial. They can advise you on your legal options.

Remember, you are not alone. Here are some resources that can offer support and guidance:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (available 24/7)
  • RAINN Online Chat: https://www.rainn.org/ (confidential chat with a caring advocate)

If you have experienced rideshare sexual assault, please know that help is available. Don't hesitate to reach out for the support you deserve.



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