[BY JESSICA CAMPISI]
A judge has ruled in favor of Uber in a lawsuit filed by a woman who said the ride-share company’s windshield decal in a suspended driver’s car gave her the false impression that she would be safe.
The judge ruled that the driver — who is facing criminal charges and could be sentenced to life in prison — was not acting within the scope of his employment with Uber when he allegedly picked up the woman from a shopping mall in the San Francisco Bay Area, drove her to a secluded place and raped her in 2018, Bloomberg reports.
While U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott ultimately sided with Uber, she rejected its argument that the assault resulted from “a chance encounter with a predator,” as the female passenger made a plausible case that the driver was pretending to be an Uber driver.
“Sexual assault is a horrible crime and our thoughts continue to be with the victim,” Uber said in an email to Bloomberg.
Corley noted that Uber could be putting itself in harm’s way if it lets its drivers who are known to be dangerous keep the company’s decals on their vehicles. The driver involved in the lawsuit had previously been suspended for allegedly harassing a female passenger before the 2018 alleged rape took place.
As a result, Corley wrote that if there had been an “intentional failure to retrieve” the decal from the driver on Uber’s part, the woman’s case “could rise to a level of ‘extreme indifference’ necessary to support an award of punitive damages,” according to Bloomberg.
The woman’s attorney said the ruling was “not a total loss,” as the judge said the plaintiff can revise her complaint and refile it to pursue a negligence claim.
“We are going to amend the complaint and proceed with the case,” attorney Matthew Davis told the outlet.