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Lyft sued in Los Angeles over alleged sexual assault by driver

It's the latest of dozens of lawsuits brought against the ride-hailing company over alleged groping, kidnapping and rape.

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Lyft is facing a slew of sexual assault lawsuits.

Lyft

After 20 women joined together in a sexual-assault lawsuit against Lyft on Wednesday, yet another such suit was filed Thursday. All the women in these legal actions allege they were sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers, in situations that range from groping to kidnapping to rape. At least 56 lawsuits involving these sorts of allegations have now been filed against the ride-hailing company since August.

The latest suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, was brought on behalf of a 23-year-old woman named Cheyenne Gutierrez. She can't drive and walks with a severe limp because of several brain surgeries she had when she was a child. She said that on a Monday night in May she ordered a Lyft home from the supermarket. Once at her house, the driver offered to help with the grocery bags. As she walked up to her front door, he attacked her.

"I can't run," Gutierrez said in an October interview. "He probably thought I couldn't fight back."

She said he grabbed her face and tried to kiss her, she shoved him with her elbow and a struggle ensued. Gutierrez said she managed to knee him in the stomach and yelled at him to get out. Finally, he ran off.

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Like the other lawsuits filed over the past few months, Gutierrez's alleges that Lyft hasn't done enough to protect riders from sexual assault and that perpetrators are drawn to Lyft to prey on vulnerable women. The lawsuits assert that Lyft does substandard background checks on drivers and often doesn't deactivate drivers from the platform after sexual assault allegations. The lawsuits also allege that Lyft tends to stonewall victims, ignoring, dismissing or downplaying their allegations.

Gutierrez, who's represented by attorney Mike Bomberger with the firm Estey and Bomberger, said she called Lyft's hotline the same night as the alleged attack. She said she spoke with a company representative who told her Lyft would get back to her. According to court documents, she received an email from Lyft the next day saying it took "the required course of action with this driver." 

After that she said she didn't hear from Lyft again, despite her repeated attempts to get more information from the company about the driver. 

"What has been described is something no one should ever have to endure," a Lyft spokeswoman said in an email. "Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in our work to build safety into every aspect of our work."

The spokeswoman said Lyft has launched several new safety features over the last few months, including continuous criminal background monitoring of its drivers and an in-app emergency 911 button. The company also just started a mandatory "community safety education" course for all drivers. 

Gutierrez and Bomberger said Thursday that they still haven't been able to get the driver's full name from Lyft. The day after the assault, Gutierrez filed a report with the Los Angeles Police Department. The police determined a battery had occurred, according to court documents, but the department reportedly wasn't able to get additional information on the driver and his vehicle from Lyft either.

"Gutierrez lives in fear every day that this driver, who knows where she lives, will come back to her home and attack her again," reads the lawsuit. "As a result of Lyft's failure to participate in the police investigation, no arrest was able to be made."