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Legal Action Alleges Uber’s Failure to Protect Women and Girls in Sexual Assault Lawsuit

In a recent legal development, a Texan woman has taken legal action, claiming that she experienced sexual assault at the hands of her Uber driver. She alleges that Uber could have prevented this traumatic incident by implementing various safety measures, particularly focused on the well-being of women and girls using their service.

Bronwyn Mouton lodged her complaint in a PDF document on December 14, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Her lawsuit contends that she was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver in September 2017 due to the rideshare service’s failure to implement even the most basic safety precautions to protect passengers from sexual predators.

According to the lawsuit, Mouton was in the midst of a ride home and engaged in conversation with her Uber driver. He suggested that she move to the front seat to continue their conversation. However, as the vehicle entered Mouton’s neighborhood, the situation took a distressing turn when the driver forced himself onto her, inquiring about her relationship status and whether anyone would retaliate against him.

The lawsuit alleges that he proceeded to rape her inside the vehicle. Mouton promptly reported the attack to both Uber and the police. Tragically, her case is not an isolated incident, as numerous women and girls across the nation have come forward, claiming to be survivors of sexual assault by Uber drivers. These cases have culminated in dozens of lawsuits throughout the federal court system, each echoing similar allegations that Uber’s negligence allowed passengers to be vulnerable to assaults by drivers.

Despite Uber introducing “Safe Ride Fees” in 2014, these lawsuits assert that the company failed to utilize these funds to genuinely enhance passenger safety. Background checks for Uber drivers were found to be cursory at best, surveillance cameras inside vehicles were not provided, passengers were unable to request drivers of a specific gender, and drivers were inadequately trained to handle issues related to sexual assault and harassment.

The lawsuit underscores a critical issue with Uber’s marketing strategy, which positions the service as a secure means for intoxicated young women to get home. However, the complaint argues that this emphasis on safety is misleading and fails to adequately inform riders about the potential risks of hailing a ride after consuming alcohol.

Mouton’s legal claims encompass a wide range of issues, including general negligence, negligent hiring, retention and supervision, common carrier negligence, negligent failure to warn, intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, strict product liability – design, and strict product liability failure to warn. She is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.

As of December 2023, all Uber driver sexual assault lawsuits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer in the Northern District of California. This consolidation aims to streamline legal proceedings and facilitate pretrial processes. If settlements are not reached during this stage, individual cases may eventually be returned to their respective U.S. District Courts for trial in the future.

This situation underscores the urgent need for rideshare companies like Uber to prioritize passenger safety and take concrete steps to protect all their customers, particularly those who may be vulnerable to such incidents.

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