14 sue Lyft, claim they were raped or sexually assaulted by drivers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fourteen people are suing Lyft on claims they were raped or sexually assaulted by the rideshare company's drivers.

Gladis is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. She says she was raped by a Lyft driver last October.

"He locked the doors of his vehicle, drove around for five hours," her attorney Steve Estey said.

"At the end of the five hours, he forcefully took her down to a beach where he brutally raped her," he said.

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Gladis says if Lyft required cameras in their cars, the attack may not have happened.

"Video of a ride would have shown my driver grabbing my phone away from me and climbing into the back seat," she said.

Kim, also a plaintiff, says she was sexually assaulted by a Lyft driver last December.

Kim reported the attack to Lyft, which said it would investigate.

"I was never updated on Lyft's investigation. I was never informed of the driver's employment or unemployment," Kim said.

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The lawsuit was filed by fourteen individuals who say they were victims of rape and sexual assaults by Lyft drivers.

But in their research, their attorneys say they discovered nearly 100 sexual assault complaints against the company in an 18 month period, in California alone.

"Lyft has shown a total disdain to making any changes that can increase the safety of their passengers," said Attorney Mike Bomberger.

Among the changes the lawsuit is calling for is the mandatory reporting of sexual assault complaints to police.

"Lyft covered up rape allegations and did its own internal investigation instead of reporting these allegations to police," said Estey.

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In addition to installing cameras in cars, the lawsuit calls for Lyft to add safety features to their app that would alert the company to any suspicious actions by drivers.

Those suing also want drivers to go through fingerprint background checks.

Orlando Lazo, the so-called "rideshare rapist" who was accused of four rapes, reportedly used a fake name when he applied to become a Lyft driver.

He never would have passed a fingerprint check.

ABC7 News in San Francisco asked Lyft for a response to the lawsuit.

"What the victims describe is terrifying and has no place in the Lyft community," said Mary Winfield, Head of Trust & Safety for Lyft and Board Director of National Domestic Violence Hotline. "One in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives - behavior that's unacceptable for our society and on our platform. As a platform committed to providing safe transportation, we hold ourselves to a higher standard by designing products and policies to keep out bad actors, make riders and drivers feel safe, and react quickly if and when an incident does occur. Our commitment is stronger than ever, as we dedicate more resources in our continued effort to ensure our riders and drivers have the safest possible experience."
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