Three women who say they were sexually assaulted by drivers pretending to work for Uber are suing the ride-hailing company, alleging that it failed to warn them of such imposters and left them as "vulnerable sitting ducks."
The plaintiffs are identified only as Jane Doe 1, 2 and 3 in the Los Angeles Superior Court negligence suit filed Friday, seeking unspecified damages.
The plaintiffs say Uber has billed itself "as one of the best options for a safe ride home'' and has even partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. According to their lawsuit, the fake Uber drivers print Uber emblems at home that appear authentic, put them on their vehicles and target intoxicated women who may be leaving such clubs as Pump, Revolver Video Bar and Trunks in West Hollywood, as well as establishments in downtown Los Angeles.
"These... drivers were specifically seeking out young, inebriated women who have engaged the Uber app and were waiting for pickup within a five-mile radius located in Los Angeles County," the suit states.
Uber knew about previous attacks on its customers based on information from the LAPD, "but failed to warn plaintiffs of the risk of abduction and rape by sexual predators posing as Uber drivers," the suit alleges.
The lawsuit makes a passing reference to the abduction and killing of a 21-year-old South Carolina woman by an imposter driver last month and says Uber has been aware of such fake drivers since November 2014.
Although Uber provides passengers with the name, car make and license number of the driver scheduled to pick them up, many of the female passengers are too drunk to pay attention and the company has failed to implement something more effective, such as an Amber Alert-style app warning system, according to the complaint, which says the lack of a better system left the plaintiffs as "vulnerable sitting ducks."
Jane Doe 1 left the Revolver club in West Hollywood on June 18, 2017, and unknowingly got into a car whose driver turned out to be a serial rapist who sexually assaulted her, the suit states.
Jane Doe 2 says she left the Down and Out club in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 30, 2017, and got into a car driven by an imposter Uber driver.
During the ride, the actual Uber driver called her and was unhappy she had gotten into the wrong vehicle, then hung up on her, the suit says.
"Jane Doe 2 realized she was in the wrong vehicle, but was unable to avoid the abduction and brutal rape that followed," the suit states.
Jane Doe 3 attended a gathering at Pump in West Hollywood on Feb. 16, 2018, and called for an Uber driver because she had been drinking alcohol, the suit says. She was later sexually assaulted by the same fake driver as Jane Doe 1, according to the suit.
An Uber representative said that company cannot specifically comment on the lawsuit at this time, but provided the following statement:
"We have been working with local law enforcement, including the LAPD, to educate the public about how to avoid fake rideshare drivers for several years. In 2017, we launched a national campaign to remind riders to make sure they get in the right car by checking the information, like the license plate and car make and model, shown in the app. These important reminders have been part of our safety tips, and our law enforcement team regularly discusses this issue with agencies across the country."