A Florida woman alleges in a lawsuit that her Lyft driver followed her into her home and repeatedly raped and impregnated her in what her attorney calls a “full-blown sexual predator crisis” involving the ride-hailing company’s drivers.
Tabatha Means, a survivor of sexual abuse by a family member as a child, said the assault traumatized her, triggered a nightmare pregnancy and emergency cesarean section, in which she gave birth to a boy prematurely at 33 weeks. DNA tests confirmed that her “Lyft driver-rapist” was the father, court documents said.
“Every day is a struggle. I’m still working to process this trauma, and at the same time I need to be a mom to my amazing children, including my youngest whose biological father was my Lyft driver-rapist,” she said in a statement. “I love my kids so deeply — but there are a lot of mixed emotions when the biggest blessing in your life can also remind you of your darkest hour.”
Law&Crime doesn’t typically name alleged victims of sexual assault, but Means is going public with her story.
Her attorney, Rachel Abrams, said Lyft has aggressively marketed itself — particularly to young women — as a safe alternative to driving while intoxicated, but its driver background checks are a joke, it doesn’t monitor rides, and it doesn’t have a mandatory dash camera policy.
“It’s a perfect recipe for the disaster we’re now facing,” Abrams said. “The numbers speak for themselves. This is a full-blown sexual predator crisis at Lyft.”
The complaint, filed in federal court in California, outlines the April 28, 2019 allegations.
Means was intoxicated, and a Lyft ride was requested for her through the ride-share app, court documents said. A Lyft car arrived, and the driver rolled down the passenger side window to confirm the ride was for her. He allegedly told her to sit in the front seat. On the ride, they made small talk. At one point, Means told him she wasn’t feeling well and needed to get home.
He allegedly complimented her looks, said “she shouldn’t be out alone,” and “he didn’t understand how a woman as sexy as her was left alone without company,” court papers said. She became uncomfortable and was “eager for the short ride to end,” the complaint said.
Once home, the driver pulled into a parking space, talked to her again, ran his hand along her thigh, and then leaned in to kiss her before she “rejected his advances,” court documents said.
He offered to walk with her to help her inside, “purportedly due to her intoxication,” and when she refused, he got out of his vehicle, and followed her in, the complaint said.
He immediately assaulted her, touching her body and trying to take off her clothes, court documents said. She begged him to stop, saying she did not feel well and did not want him touching her.
He allegedly responded, “It will be just fine and over before you know it.” At one point, he allegedly told her he had just had “a sexual encounter with ‘a girl I picked up [in a Lyft ride] before you,’” court documents said.
Once he finished, he put his clothes back on and left.
She didn’t report the rape to authorities “out of fear that no one would believe her,” court documents said.
The lawsuit alleges negligence, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and other allegations. It seeks more than $75,000 in damages.
In August, Law&Crime reported Lyft was facing more than a dozen legal complaints from passengers and drivers alleging sexual and physical assault.
Full Story: Law & Crime January 11 2024