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After ridehail companies Uber and Lyft first pledged to release safety reports disclosing incidents of sexual assault and abuse on their platforms more than three years ago, Lyft reportedly has yet to do so. Meanwhile, plaintiff lawyers told CNN Business that hundreds of passengers are now lining up for potential lawsuits over alleged incidents of this nature.
In May 2018, Uber and Lyft each committed to releasing safety transparency reports that would disclose internal data on the most severe safety incidents on their platforms following an investigation into sexual assault and abuse incidents by their ride-hail drivers. Towards the end of 2019, Uber put out its first report, revealing it had received 5,981 reports of sexual assault involving passengers and drivers in the two years prior, including 464 reports of rape. Lyft, however, has not followed through on its own prior timelines for putting out the report.
Lyft’s head of policy development, Jennifer Brandenburger, reportedly said earlier this year that the company is waiting for Uber to resolve its ongoing issue with the California Public Utilities Commission prior to releasing its own report. The CPUC requested additional information on incidents that occurred in the state and then fined Uber $59 million for failing to comply with its request. CPUC and Uber are in ongoing mediation to resolve the issue.
Uber and Lyft have long argued that revealing said information puts the victims’ privacy at risk. In a statement, Lyft spokesperson Ashley Adams told CNN Business that the CPUC’s recent actions “must be resolved before we will release [their] safety report.” Regarding the changed timelines, Lyft told CNN Business it had decided to include data from 2019 in its report and was waiting on government traffic fatality data to be released.
However, as Lyft waits, legal cases against the company reportedly continue to grow, stemming from its handling of alleged sexual assault and rape incidents. Currently, at least 72 passengers are suing the company over alleged incidents. Of those cases, a small number are expected to go to trial through a coordinated proceeding. Some of the cases allege Lyft has been aware that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female passengers for years but has failed to take adequate steps to protect passengers and warn them of the issue. The first trial is set to begin in Jan. of next year.
According to one of three firms bringing the cases against Lyft, the number of passengers seeking legal counsel over alleged sexual assault and abuse claims by Lyft drivers is much higher. The firm told CNN Business it has retained more than 400 clients whose cases it is investigating and prosecuting, with roughly 80 cases filed currently. Another firm bringing separate cases against Lyft and is also part of the coordinated proceeding, reportedly said it also has “many” other alleged victims whose cases it has yet to file.
“These [cases] are going to keep coming unless [Lyft] changes its procedures or institutes more safety measures,” Angela Nehmens, associate attorney at one of the firms representing victims, told CNN Business last month. “Uber is at least making an attempt to be open with the public. … Lyft is not doing that at all.” She also noted that while Uber meets periodically with the firm to try and resolve cases, Lyft does not.