Women sue Uber for not warning of sexual assaults by fake drivers

The suit, filed in Los Angeles, accuses Uber Technologies Inc. of negligence.

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By Minyvonne Burke

Three women in California who say they were raped by men posing as Uber drivers have filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they were not warned about fake rideshare drivers targeting women leaving bars and nightclubs in the Los Angeles area.

The suit was filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court and accuses Uber Technologies Inc. of negligence.

According to the suit, Uber was told by authorities in Los Angeles that fake drivers were luring inebriated women into their cars and then sexually assaulting them. Uber was made aware of the alleged assaults as early as 2016, the suit alleges.

"The unwitting public, and in particular women looking for a safe ride home, have been lulled into believing that the Uber App summons a safe means of transportation," the lawsuit said. "Instead, once the Uber app has been engaged, single female passengers leaving crowded nightclub/bar/restaurant locations become vulnerable to the fake Uber scheme."

The women hailed a driver through the Uber app and instead got into the wrong vehicle of a man purporting to be a driver.

Two of the women — identified as Jane Doe 1, a resident of Culver City, and Jane Doe 3, a resident of Van Nuys — were allegedly raped by the same man posing as an Uber driver, according to the lawsuit. Jane Doe 1's assault happened in June 2017 and Jane Doe 3's in February 2018. Both women had left the same West Hollywood club when they were lured into a car they believed was their Uber ride, the suit states.

Jane Doe 2, of Alhambra, was abducted and raped by a man in December 2017 after leaving a club in Los Angeles, according to the suit.

Uber said in a statement Tuesday that it has been working with law enforcement for several years on how passengers can protect themselves against fake drivers.

"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," an Uber spokesperson said. "These important reminders have been part of our safety tips, and our law enforcement team regularly discusses this issue with agencies across the country.”

The lawsuit claims that six weeks before Jane Doe 1 was attacked, Uber was made aware of an alleged assault involving another woman. NBC News has not been able to verify the specifics of this lawsuit.

"Using the advanced GPS technology available on the Uber App, the Uber Defendants could have easily warned Uber passengers in the known danger zones directly through the Uber App in an Amber Alert style warning and could have targeted warnings by location," the suit states.

All three women say they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and have experienced "symptoms consistent with rape trauma syndrome."

The lawsuit comes a week after South Carolina college student Samantha Josephson was killed after getting into a car she believed was her Uber ride. Nathaniel D. Rowland, 25, was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murder in her death. He has not entered a plea.