Nearly two months ago, a young woman was allegedly raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi, India. The incident led to the banning of the service in India and a full-scale investigation there, but the victim has brought her case over to the U.S. now filing a complaint with the Northern District Court of California.
The charges raised in the complaint include negligence and fraud, and the victim (who is going by Jane Doe to protect her identity) says that it’s Uber’s hollow marketing tactics and disregard for customer safety that led to the events that unfolded on that December 5 night.
One of the focal points of the complaint is Uber’s background check policies with regards to its riders.
Had Uber not sacrificed customer safety for the sake of profit and expansion, and actually cared about who it was employing to drives its cars rather than being preoccupied with claiming its share of the India taxi market, Plaintiff Doe would not have been viciously raped. In fact, a basic background check would have revealed that Yadav had a known propensity for violent and deviant conduct, including numerous arrests for rape and assault, which should have disqualified him from working as an Uber driver.
Uber structures its business in a way that doesn’t shoulder much responsibility for the behavior of its contracted drivers. Uber promises background checks on hired drivers, but it’s up to the user to choose the safest and best driver on the app (even though it automatically matches you and fines you for canceling). What goes on between the time that the driver picks up the passenger and drops them off is the responsibility of the driver alone.
For this reason, similar cases in the past haven’t made much of a dent in Uber’s legal armor.
Following this particular New Delhi case, Uber’s service was banned in the city. India represents one of Uber’s largest markets outside of the United States.
However, one week ago the service returned to the city under new legal restrictions, working on a no-profit model pending radio taxi license approval.
The company, embattled from the start, has grown from fledging startup to one of the most successful companies of the last decade. Uber is valued north of $40 billion and operates all over the world.
Update: An Uber spokesperson got back to TechCrunch with the following statement:
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.
If you want to look at the full details of the complaint, we’ve embedded them below.