Lyft sued by 17 passengers, drivers who claim the company failed to protect them

By Jessica Bursztynsky

August 31, 2022

Lyft is facing legal action filed by 17 passengers and drivers who claim they were sexually or physically assaulted while using the rideshare platform.

Attorneys say the alleged incidents, occurring across a number of states, include 13 of sexual assault and 4 of physical assault.

“Lyft has created a national crisis,” Adam Wolf, partner at Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise (the firm that filed the lawsuits and arbitration claims), said at a press conference Wednesday. “This is happening everywhere. It can and will happen wherever Lyft is operating, because this systemic failure, it cuts to the very core of how Lyft does business.”

The attorneys claim in one of the filings that the company doesn’t perform adequate background checks, allows culpable drivers to keep driving for Lyft, and has “failed to adopt and implement reasonable driver monitoring procedures designed to protect the safety of its passengers.”

In an emailed response to the allegations, Lyft spokesperson Gabriela Condarco-Quesada said the company is “committed to helping keep drivers and riders safe.” She added, “While safety incidents on our platform are incredibly rare, we realize that even one is too many. Our goal is to make every Lyft ride as safe as possible, and we will continue to take action and invest in technology, policies, and partnerships to do so.”

Lyft contended in the statement that the attorneys made a number of false or misleading claims when discussing the cases during the Wednesday press conference. The company pointed to a number of its safety features, including its partnership with ADT, a driver-required community safety education course, annual driver screenings, and the ability to share the ride’s ongoing location with a contact.

Tracey Cowan, partner at Peiffer Wolf, said during the press conference that while Lyft “claims that its drivers can decline any ride they like,” the company “consistently refuses to give drivers the information they need to avoid a dangerous ride,” adding that Lyft should implement things like more comprehensive background screenings and put dash cameras in every car.

The cases are the latest among a series of lawsuits that have been filed against Lyft and competitor Uber in recent years as both companies work to combat safety issues. Last month, attorneys with California firm Slater Slater Schulman filed a complaint against Uber representing women who say they were assaulted by drivers who they were connected to via the platform.

In a long-awaited safety report published last year—the first ever from Lyft—the company disclosed that from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2019, it had received more than 4,000 reports of sexual assault from users of the platform. At the time the company stressed that more than 99% of trips occur without any incident.