Lyft facing 17 lawsuits from drivers and passengers amid accusations of sexual and physical assaults

The victims spoke out about their experiences in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

Sophie Flay Image
Thursday, September 1, 2022
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The victims spoke out about their experiences in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

Lyft is facing 17 new lawsuits, 13 of them filed by sexual assault survivors and four of them filed by physical assault victims. They are being filed by both Lyft passengers and drivers.

The victims spoke out about what they're calling traumatizing experiences in a virtual press conference Wednesday.

"I'm not me anymore. And I absolutely hate how my life and sense of security was just snatched away from me," said former Lyft driver Erika Garcia-Galicia.

An attorney representing these victims is calling this a nationwide crisis. Victims and survivors suing Lyft span from coast to coast. Among those who spoke out include people from Arizona, California, Illinois and Connecticut.

Katherine Rasta from Phoenix, Arizona, says she was sexually assaulted by a Lyft driver while riding as a passenger. She said when they got to her destination the driver locked the doors and assaulted her, then threatened her saying if she told anyone about the incident, he knows where she lives.

"Since then, I've moved into a different house. I changed my number just so he wouldn't find me," Rasta said.

When we asked Lyft for an interview, they provided us with this statement:

"We're committed to helping keep drivers and riders safe. 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.Additionally, it is our understanding that a number of false and/or misleading claims may have been made by the attorneys at today's press conference. Please refer to the information below to accurately understand and portray Lyft's approach to safety.Re: overall safety on the Lyft platform:Well over 99% of Lyft rides occur without any safety report at all. In our Community Safety Report you can see that the rate of reported sexual assault incidents from 2017 to 2019 remained constant at 0.00002%.Over the years we have introduced numerous safety measures in order to address safety incidents on our platform including Share Location, Emergency Help by ADT, Smart Trip Check-In, two way feedback system, contact protection, the Industry Sharing Safety Program, and more.Re: background checks for drivers:Every single driver on the platform goes through rigorous screening. We require a background check before someone is approved to drive and every year thereafter, as well as continuous criminal monitoring that provides Lyft with immediate notification of any disqualifying offense. Any driver who does not pass the initial, annual and continuous screenings is barred from our platform.Re: community guidelines around violence and harassment:Violence and harassment are not tolerated on the Lyft platform, and drivers or riders who engage in such behavior or otherwise violate our Community Guidelines can and do result in those users being permanently removed from the platform.Re: driver education:Every single driver must take a community safety education course - created in partnership with RAINN, North America's largest anti-sexual violence organization - before driving with Lyft.Re: cooperation with law enforcement:Any assertion that we do not cooperate with law enforcement is false - it is our policy to respond to every valid law enforcement request and assist law enforcement with their investigations.Re: driver safetyWe've instituted processes to proactively detect and take action against unsafe rider behavior including temporarily and permanently deactivating accounts, blocking users from creating new accounts, and requiring riders to submit additional information before requesting a ride. We continue to take action against rider accounts we determine to raise safety concerns.Drivers can see riders' ratings before accepting a ride, and have our support to decline rides if they ever feel unsafe."