(KRON) — A Lyft passenger filed a lawsuit in San Francisco this week accusing her driver of repeatedly raping her, resulting in pregnancy and the birth of her son. Tabatha Means said she requested a ride home through Lyft’s app because she was too intoxicated to drive after a night out.
“Lyft knows its customers are getting raped,” Means told reporters Wednesday. “Every day is a struggle for me. At the same time, I need to be a mom to my youngest son. I love my kids so deeply, but there are a lot of mixed emotions.”
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of California accuses the company of negligent hiring, retention, and supervision.
Attorney Rachel Abrams said, “The Lyft driver took advantage of her vulnerable state. What happened to Tabatha has no place in our society.” The company headquartered in San Francisco continues putting profit over its riders’ safety, she said.
Means got into a Lyft driver’s vehicle in Florida on April 28, 2019, and the driver began complimenting her “sexy” looks, the lawsuit states. “These inappropriate comments made Plaintiff very uncomfortable, and she was eager for the short ride to end,” the lawsuit continues. Means was visibly intoxicated, her attorneys said.
Once they reached Means’ home, she rejected the driver’s offer to walk her inside. She insisted that she would walk inside on her own, but the driver still followed her inside. He began sexually assaulting Means and she told him to stop, according to the lawsuit.
“Plaintiff was terrified that the Lyft driver, a stranger and predator, had entered her residence against her will, especially given her vulnerable state. She was frozen in fear,” the lawsuit states.
The suit claims Lyft became aware that its drivers were raping female passengers as early as 2015, but the company has not taken serious steps to protect passengers.
The company also advertises itself with slogans including, “Get Home Safely with Lyft,” Means’ attorneys said. The lawsuit accuses Lyft of intentional misrepresentation.
“There is a full-blow sexual predator crisis at Lyft. To maximize profit, Lyft accepts as many new drivers as possible,” without adequate background checks, Abrams said. “Lyft’s attempt to deflect liability is a perfect example of its bad faith handling of this crisis.”
After she gave birth, Means obtained an administrative order from Florida’s Child Support
Services to obtain a DNA sample from the Lyft driver. The test confirmed that he was the father.
Her attorneys said Lyft drivers are largely nonprofessional, untrained, and use their own vehicles. The company fails to warn its riders that their ride may not be safe, the suit claims.
Means’ ride took “a dark turn” that left lasting, traumatic impacts on her life, Abrams said. Means struggles daily with severe depression, anxiety, nightmares, and persistent fear, the lawsuit states.
Means said she never filed a police report because she was too fearful at the time, something she now deeply regrets. She said if she could give other rape survivors advice, she encourages women speaking up.
“Lyft is trying to blaming me, or push me into saying I wanted this. Or is happened off app. I took a ride thinking I was safe, period. I was there, I know what happened. I don’t want anyone else to be afraid to speak up. Say something, because this will continue,” Means said.
The lawsuit filed by the law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise demands a jury trial.
Full Story: KRON January 10 2024