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Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Lyft over sexual assault allegations.


Angela Lang/CNET

The number of women alleging Lyft hasn’t done enough to stop sexual assaults by its drivers is growing. Twenty more women joined together in a lawsuit Wednesday, alleging they were assaulted, kidnapped and raped while using the company’s ride-hailing service. That means more than 50 women have either filed or joined lawsuits against Lyft since August. 

The newest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court by Mike Bomberger, attorney with the law firm Estey and Bomberger. He’s also representing 14 other women in a separate suit against Lyft. Another lawyer, Rachel Abrams of Levin Simes Abrams, has additionally filed 19 suits against Lyft over similar allegations.

The victims’ lawyers say 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 them from the platform after sexual assault allegations. The lawsuits also allege that Lyft tends to stonewall victims, ignoring, dismissing or downplaying their assertions.

For its part, Lyft says it’s focusing on safety. John Zimmer, the ride-hailing company’s president, published a blog post in September titled “Reinforcing our commitment to safety,” saying Lyft rolled out several new safety features over the last year. Those include continuous background checks and an emergency 911 button in the app. Lyft has also just initiated a mandatory “community safety education” course for all drivers. 

Lyft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Wednesday’s lawsuit.

After Uber, Lyft is the second-largest ride-hailing service in the country. The 7-year-old company says it has more than 2 million drivers and 30 million riders throughout the US and Canada. With operations in all 50 states, it coordinates millions of rides every day. 

Lyft and Uber haven’t released data on how many assaults are linked to their drivers, and they’ve declined to say how many sexual assault lawsuits have been filed against them. But according to lawyers representing victims, the numbers are steep. 

Bomberger said he gets at least three calls a day from women who say they were assaulted by ride-hail drivers. And Abrams said her firm is now representing more than 70 women who say they’ve been sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers. 

Both Abrams and Bomberger said they get as many, if not more, calls about women allegedly attacked by Uber drivers. But, they said, Uber has a better record of working with the victims and therefore faces fewer lawsuits.

The women in the newest lawsuit detail incidents in which they fell asleep in the back seat only to find their Lyft driver on top of them. Many of the women say they went to drastic measures to stop the drivers from the alleged attacks. One women said she told the driver she had HIV, another said she urinated to get the driver to stop. Lawyers for the victims say many of these sexual assaults occurred after Lyft was sued in early September.

This story is developing…

Originally published Dec. 4, 10:40 a.m. PT.
Correction, 11:23 a.m.: Lawyers corrected their statement to say that 20 more women joined together in a lawsuit, not 21.

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