Dozens of women who were sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers are demanding that the rideshare company implement new policies that will help protect customers from predator-drivers.
And they’re suing Lyft to make sure those changes happen.
Estey & Bomberger filed a lawsuit against Lyft in December 2019 and currently represents more than 100 Lyft and Uber sexual assault victims. Estey & Bomberger is a nationally-recognized California law firm that has been representing sexual assault victims for more than 20 years.
Many of the victims are anonymously identified in a lawsuit against Lyft as “Jane Roe,” including Jane Roe 2, a Massachusetts woman who was raped in February 2019.
Jane was at an after-hours business meeting when she realized she’d had too much to drink. Since her father was killed by a drunken driver when she was a child, Jane never drinks and drives, and relied on Lyft to get her home safely.
But that didn’t happen.
She fell asleep in the backseat and woke up at around 1 a.m. as she was being sexually assaulted.
“He reached his hand back and started touching me and I froze,” Jane said. “And I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I brushed his hand off, but he did it again and that’s when I started to panic.”
“The way that he did what he did to me leads me to believe this was not his first time. He reached his hand back and he was able to get his hand in my pants and this is really tough for me to say, but I froze and he assaulted me.”
At a news conference announcing the lawsuit’s filing, Jane described how she jumped into the vehicle’s front seat and started fighting with the driver.
“I fought for my life and he slammed my wrists in his car door. He dragged me with the vehicle. I was left in the middle of a dark street. He flung my purse, laptop and fall out of his vehicle and proceeded to run over them in hopes that he wouldn’t be found. This is who Lyft has driving their cars.”
After the driver abandoned Jane in the middle of a dark street, she ran – bloodied and bruised – to a nearby house and pounded on the door. The homeowners called police.
Police eventually found Jane’s purse on the side of the road and the driver, Oscar D. Salguero, was brought in for questioning.
“He lied in the beginning and said I attacked him for no reason. But they caught him in the lie, so they got him,” she said.
Salguero, however, was allowed to remain free while he awaited trial and presumably continued driving for Lyft before pleading guilty to two counts of indecent assault and battery.
Before he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail, Salguero tried to deceive law enforcement about his whereabouts.
“My rapist was brazen enough to remove his ankle bracelet while he was awaiting trial. When your rapist knows where you live and is not in jail, it leads to the strongest fears of what will happen. It leads to panic attacks and it leads to the inability to trust. And it leads to days where I just wish I could curl up and never leave the house. But just like I fought back against the Lyft rapist, I’m fighting back against Lyft and I’m pushing myself to regain control of my life. I’m scared, I’m sad and I’m angry.”
Jane continues to be haunted by what happened that night but says she “hasn’t taken her foot off the gas for one minute” because she wants Lyft to change its ways and record all rides. That way drivers would know they’re being watched.
“It’s not just for myself, it’s for the greater good of everybody,” she said. “I’ve looked to see who’s affected here and I’ve read their stories. And you know, there’s a couple that hit me so hard that I actually teared up and said, ‘My God, how are they surviving?’ You know, older women, blind women. We’re only hearing about women but there are men out there who are being assaulted as well.”
Jane joined the Estey & Bomberger lawsuit to ensure that Lyft is held accountable for its negligence.
“They need to know that we’re coming after them to make sure their technology is being used for good because evil is creeping in. They’ve got to stop that,” she said. “So, that’s what I really hope to see out of this – that they’re owning up to the fact that their technology is broken. I want to hear them say, “We’re going to fix it and do right.’ That’s what I really hope.”
Although Lyft has objected to recording its rides, Janes thinks that’s a ridiculous argument, pointing out that “we can put people on the moon for crying out loud, so we can certainly figure out a software that will stop a predator from raping a vulnerable human being in the back of their vehicle.”
Since joining the lawsuit, Jane has had an opportunity to meet other Lyft victims, gaining strength from their stories and finding comfort in the knowledge that she’s not alone.
“Estey & Bomberger has victim advocates on staff who are always available to talk and who understand that I have good and bad days,” she said. “My advocate is really more of a friend – she checks in on me to make sure I’m OK and gives me status reports on the case. We’re all helping each other with the end goal being to make sure Lyft gets its act together. They need to understand that the best thing for their businesses is to invest in safety. From what I’ve seen, the people at Estey & Bomberger are fighters and we victims need someone like them to fight for us.”