Lawsuit: Uber didn't fire a driver accused of assault -- and he did it again

Two Tennessee women say Uber failed to protect them.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read
Uber Releases Results Of Internal Sexual Harassment Investigation

Two Tennessee women have sued Uber for negligence after the company failed to fire a driver accused of sexual assault.

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Two women in Tennessee have sued Uber , alleging the ride-hailing company was negligent for failing to fire a driver who had been accused of sexual assault.

The lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County, Tennessee, alleges the unnamed plaintiffs were attacked by driver John Kyle Lane, 26, on separate occasions last year in Hamilton County. The lawsuit was filed on July 20 this year and was previously reported by The Chattanoogan.

Lane allegedly locked the first woman, referred to as Jane Doe 1, in the car when they arrived at her house, according to the lawsuit. He then forced himself on her until she threatened to scream, the suit says. She reported the incident to both law enforcement and Uber.

Two weeks later, on Aug. 6, Lane allegedly assaulted another female passenger, Jane Doe 2, the lawsuit says. He requested to "have a threesome" with her and her boyfriend upon arriving at her house. He then tried to prevent her from leaving the car. Jane Doe 2 escaped and reported Lane to the police and Uber. Lane subsequently called and harassed her, contributing to the couple's decision to move to Florida, the lawsuit says. 

The lawsuit alleges Uber failed to adequately vet drivers and took no action against Lane despite Jane Doe 1's complaint. 

"By failing to conduct meaningful driver screens … Uber breached [its] duty of care," the complaint said. "By allowing Lane to continue driving after Jane Doe 1 reported the sexual assault, Uber showed complete indifference to, and an intentional or reckless disregard for, the physical and emotional safety and well-being of the plaintiffs."

The lawsuit is the latest in a list of assaults that are alleged to have occurred during ride-hailing trips. A CNN investigation earlier this year found more than 120 Uber and Lyft drivers have allegedly sexually assaulted passengers over the past four years. More than 100 Uber drivers and close to 20 Lyft  drivers are alleged to have raped, forcibly touched or kidnapped passengers, the report found. 

"What's been described is appalling and this driver remains permanently removed from the app," an Uber spokesperson said in an email statement.

"We are in the very early stages of litigation right now and we believe the allegations in the Complaint speak for themselves," said William Rieder, the plaintiffs' lawyer, in an email statement. "We are confident that we will be able to prove these allegations."

The two women in Tennessee are seeking at least $25,000 in damages. Lane is expected to appear in court on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to The Tennessean

You can read the 65-page complaint, which was earlier obtained by local ABC affiliate of WTVC, below:

First published on Aug. 14, 1:54 p.m. PT.

Updates on Aug. 15, 6:41 a.m. PT: Adds Uber spokesperson and plaintiffs' lawyer statement.

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