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Uber asks US court to toss out alleged rape case from India

The car-hailing service says a US-based company cannot be sued in a "dispute involving an alleged wrong committed by one Indian citizen against another Indian citizen, in India."

Uber is trying to sidestep a lawsuit tied to an alleged rape in New Delhi, India. Uber

Car-hailing service Uber has asked a US court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a customer who was allegedly raped in India last year by one of its drivers.

Uber on Monday filed for the dismissal in US federal court, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of the filing. In the document, San Francisco-based Uber argues that a US-based company cannot be sued in a "dispute involving an alleged wrong committed by one Indian citizen against another Indian citizen, in India,"

Uber's filing comes just months after the 26-year-old Indian woman was allegedly assaulted and raped by an Uber driver in India's capital territory of New Delhi. The driver, Shiv Kumar, was subsequently arrested and is awaiting trial in India. Uber, which expressed outrage at the alleged crime, was soon banned from India for failing to have proper licensing for its drivers. The service has since come back to India's roads after applying to be considered a taxi company under Indian law.

The incident is one of many around the world involving alleged rapes, kidnappings and beatings by Uber drivers. Over the last several months, media outlets have reported dozens of claims of sexual assault, groping, kidnapping, and physical assault. Just days after the woman in New Delhi was allegedly assaulted, an Uber driver in Boston was arraigned on charges of rape, assault to rape, kidnapping and two counts of assault and battery after allegedly attacking a woman in his Uber vehicle.

The woman involved in the New Delhi case sued Uber in January in the US, arguing that the company failed to provide adequate safety protocols. The woman, who was not identified in the lawsuit, has said that Uber should update its security by providing a 24-hour customer support hotline and in-car cameras.

In November, Uber started a safety review to identify new technologies, such as biometrics and voice verification, to enhance driver screenings and background checks. Uber also said it is working to make it easier for riders to communicate with the company and is building "Safety Incident Response teams" to provide support to customers during emergencies.

In December, Uber's head of global safety, Phillip Cardenas, said in a blog post that Uber has "more work to do" in safety, adding that his company "is committed to developing new technology tools that improve safety, strengthen and increase the number of cities and countries where background checks are conducted and improve communication with local officials and law enforcement."

Uber has been adding safety features to its services over the last few months, including integrating a . Uber also inked a deal with India-based safety-tracking app SafetiPin to improve safety and security across New Delhi. Last month, Uber announced a handful of safety improvements, including the launch of a global Safety Advisory Board and enhanced driver verification.

"We are committed to ensuring Uber is the safest way to get around a city," Cardenas wrote in a blog post last month. "My team and I have conducted an internal global safety review and also worked with outside experts...to identify the best ways to make the platform even safer."

Uber noted that the alleged victim in New Delhi should be allowed to sue her alleged assailant but that the company had no relationship with the woman. She did, however, use the Uber app to hail a car, which is the grounds on which she's suing the company.

Uber's petition to the US court came as rape charges were dropped against one of the company's drivers in Chicago. According to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, new evidence -- a smartphone-recorded video -- was brought to prosecutors in the case showing the driver, Maxime Fohounhedo, engaging in conversation that ended in "a big hug and a big kiss." The video was enough for prosecutors to toss out the charges. Fohounhedo had been in jail since December.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment on either matter.