An article in the Patriot Ledger reports that a Weymouth, MA, woman is suing the ride-hailing service Uber after one of its drivers raped her in 2018. Emily Murray initially filed the lawsuit in Norfolk Superior Court in April but it was removed to federal District Court in Boston on June 30. Murray has bravely requested that her name be used in stories about the pending case. Murray filed the lawsuit against Uber and the man she said raped her, Frederick Q. Amfo.
Amfo, 32, was arrested after Murray reported what happened on April 8, 2018. He posted $10,000 bail following his arraignment in Quincy District Court and was released and given 24 hours to turn in his passport. Police say he boarded a plane to his native Ghana. A grand jury indicted Amfo in September 2018 on a rape charge.
Murray’s attorney, Victoria Mair, said in the lawsuit complaint that part of Uber’s incredible growth is due to its “lax hiring and security screening process.”
“Sexual assaults by Uber drivers against passengers are not isolated or rare occurrences,” she said. “They are part of a pattern of heinous, but avoidable, attacks.”
According to a report by the company, in 2017 and 2018 there were nearly 6,000 allegations of sexual assault involving its rides. Mair said that the victim requested a ride from Quincy to Weymouth. Amfo picked her up, drove to a poorly lit street, locked the doors and raped her in his car, Mair said in the lawsuit.
Mair said in the complaint that Uber is a “common carrier,” like taxis, buses and airplanes, which means it is held to the “highest affirmative duty” to protect its riders from harm, including from their drivers. Uber’s business model depends on a large pool of drivers but it does not conduct third-party background checks.
In an interview, Mair said the vetting Uber does of its drivers is “perfunctory at best.” The company does the bare minimum for safety and does not do any violent crime background checks, Mair said. The team at Estey & Bomberger are in agreement with Mair, and have been advocating for changes to the way Uber and Lyft conduct business for years.
The victim is a “very, very brave woman,” Mair said. “It’s always hard to come forward with your story, and it’s particularly hard for a woman to come forward with this type of story.”