Delhi rape survivor sues Uber taxi app

Reuters / Vivek Prakash
A woman who was allegedly raped by an Uber taxi driver in New Delhi last month has filed a lawsuit against the service in a US court. She is also seeking a permanent injunction to make sure the company introduces safety precautions.

The 25-year-old woman, who filed the lawsuit in a California federal court, has called the taxi firm the “modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking.”

Uber allows customers to order a taxi through a mobile phone app and operates in over 250 cities around the world. It is valued at US$40 billion.

The service was banned from the streets of Delhi after the December 5 rape. India has a troubled history of sexual violence against women.

READ MORE: Uber banned in Indian capital after taxi driver accused of raping passenger

The woman – who is being identified as 'Jane Doe' – is asking for damages due to physical and monetary harm, as well as the harm caused to her “professional and personal reputations.” The exact amount she is seeking remains unknown.

She is also slapping a permanent injunction on the firm to make sure it introduces necessary safety precautions and to “prevent repeated occurrences in the future.”

"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," said Douglas Wigdor, the woman’s lawyer, who is a prominent New York attorney.

Wigdor said that by cutting costs on basic safety issues, Uber has introduced a service which can “only be described as modern day hitchhiking.”

Jeanne Christensen, a partner at Wigdor LLP law firm, said that Uber’s cost-cutting forced the young female executive to “pay the ultimate price.”

Uber does not have cameras installed in cars, and does not carry out background checks on its drivers. The Uber driver in Delhi was a known repeat sexual predator.

“We intend to hold Uber accountable for violence that could easily have been avoided had even a minimal background check been conducted,” said Christensen.

The injunction will demand that Uber implement safety measures, including: 24X7 customer support centers in every city they operate in; video cameras and GPS tracking systems in all vehicles; and provide female drivers.

There were protests in Delhi after the rape allegations against the Indian driver surfaced. India is reeling from the horrific gang rape of a student on a moving bus in late 2012, which resulted in her death.