Lyft which was sued earlier this month by 14 women alleging rape complaints against drivers is again faced with a lawsuit regarding passenger safety. Alison Turkos said in a statement released by her lawyers that she was raped by the Lyft driver in the fall of 2017. “What should have been a 15-minute drive, turned into an 80-minute living nightmare,” she said.
The Lyft driver kidnapped Turkos on gunpoint and raped her along with two other men. She reported about her “kidnapping” to Lyft. Lyft says that Turkos reported the incident as an indirect route not as a safety incident.
The lawsuit alleges, “Alison remembers the men cheering and high fiving each other as they continued to rape her…Their attack was so brutal that the next day Alison experienced severe vaginal pain and bleeding. Her body was so exhausted from the attack and resulting trauma that Alison could not even leave her bed or raise her arms.”
In her statement, Turkos said that Lyft “apologized for the inconvenience that I’d been through. They appreciated the voice of their customers and were committed to doing their best in giving me the support that I needed.” Lyft unpaired her from the driver so that she will never get him as the driver and asked her to pay the estimated cost of the ride. Turkos got to know later that the driver as still working with Lyft with new name and id putting other riders at risk.
The rape was also reported by Turkos to the New York Police Department (NYPD). The forensic tests on Turkos confirmed the presence of semen of two men on her clothing. Her case was transferred to the FBI, according to the lawsuit.
In 2018, a CNN reported that 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers had been accused of sexual assault or abuse. Background checks and says passenger safety is conducted by both companies.
Lyft claims that they did not know about the incident until an article was published by the Wall Street Journal in May 2018. Lyft received a subpoena from law enforcement on May 14, 2018. “What this rider describes is awful, and something no one should have to endure,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “The unfortunate fact remains that one in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives — behavior that’s unacceptable for our society and on our platform. In this case, the driver passed the New York City TLC’s background check and was permitted to drive.”
The lawsuit asks for special damages including coverage of the expenditure of the past and future hospital expenses along with expenses of loss of earning capacity. “By failing to take reasonable steps to confront the problem of multiple rapes and sexual assaults of LYFT passengers by LYFT drivers, LYFT has acted in conscious disregard of the safety of its passengers,” the lawsuit alleges.
Lyft has rolled out new features in response to the incident. The company claims that an in-app 911 feature is available to riders. Lyft is also providing sexual harassment training to all its drivers and riders. It is also planning a feature to detect unexpected delays.
Updated: A statement from Lyft mentioned, Turkos said she reported her incident to Lyft as a kidnapping, not assault.