Ride-hailing startup Uber has settled a lawsuit that alleged brutal driver sexual assaults on two female passengers.
The terms of the settlement are confidential. By reaching a deal now, Uber avoids a trial, scheduled for March, that could have been incredibly damaging to its image. Uber declined to comment on the case, and the lawyer representing the anonymous plaintiffs didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit (PDF) was originally filed in October of last year, with both plaintiffs listed as Jane Does. The complaint described two assaults. In the first, “Doe 1” said she was assaulted by her driver, Abderrahim Dakiri, after her two other friends were dropped off.
“When the vehicle was stopped at a red light, Dakiri began groping Ms. Doe 1 in the crotch, upper thigh, and top of her pants,” the complaint stated. She later escaped the car and ran to a friend’s house. A passerby called 911 and the driver was arrested and charged.
Jane Doe 2 hired an Uber in South Carolina, and says her driver Patrick Aiello instead took her to a parking lot, locked the doors and “proceeded to viciously rape her.” Aiello was arrested and charged.
Uber argued it shouldn’t be responsible for crimes committed by its drivers, but in a hearing earlier this year, Judge Ilston was unconvinced. As precedent, the judge cited a 1956 case where the Pullman Company was found to have some responsibility for a passenger who was raped by a railway porter.
The original lawsuit claimed that Uber’s background checks were insufficient and that changes “must be implemented without delay.” Since the settlement is confidential, it isn’t clear what changes, if any, were instituted as a result of the litigation.
The settlement papers were filed on Thursday and reported earlier by The Recorder.