A woman executive from Delhi allegedly raped by an Uber driver last December has filed a lawsuit in a US court, accusing the web-based US taxi firm of focusing on profits over the safety of its passengers.
In a 36-page complaint filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California Thursday, the woman seeks to "slam the brakes on Uber's reckless worldwide expansion at the unfortunate expense of basic customer safety".
The lawsuit which identifies the victim only as Jane Doe, also seeks compensation "for the horrific and brutal rape that she suffered due to Uber's inadequate and disingenuous 'commitment to safety'".
Demanding a trial by jury, the lawsuit seeks "a permanent injunction directing that Uber take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the unlawful conduct" alleged in the complaint, "and to prevent repeated occurrences in the future".
It also seeks an award of unspecified amount of punitive damages to be determined at trial, plus prejudgment interest, to compensate the victim "for all physical, monetary and/or economic harm".
Her New York-based lawyer, Douglas H. Wigdor, in a statement said: "Uber's focus on its bottom line over the safety of its passengers has resulted in what can only be described as modern day electronic hitchhiking."
"We intend to hold Uber responsible for the significant physical and emotional harm it has caused to our client, while simultaneously seeking a court order mandating that Uber initiate certain safety precautions that they appear unwilling to do voluntarily," he said.
"We hope that this lawsuit will bring about positive change that will ultimately protect people worldwide who are unaware of the serious risks of entering into an Uber car," Wigdor added.
Jeanne M. Christensen, another Wigdor LLP lawyer, said: "San Francisco Uber executives' decisions to cut costs at the expense of customer safety forced our client to pay the ultimate cost in New Delhi."
"Her brutal rape by an Uber driver who was a known repeat sexual predator was a result of a global Uber policy that has far-reaching consequences," she said.
"We intend to hold Uber accountable for violence that could easily have been avoided had even a minimal background check been conducted."
An Uber spokesperson said: "Our deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime. We are cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice."
The accused driver Shiv Kumar Yadav is currently on trial on rape and kidnapping charges in Delhi.
Delhi banned Uber and several other web-based taxi firms for failing to carry out adequate driver checks in early December.
But last week Uber announced resumption of its services in Delhi, saying it had applied for a radio taxi licence and would improve safety by introducing features such as an "in-app emergency button".
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)