Three sisters injured when a pickup driver veered onto a Fullerton sidewalk and plowed into nine people sued Uber and Lyft Tuesday, claiming drivers for the ride-hailing companies contributed to the crash by parking illegally on the street.
Riley, Shea and Kaycee Hoover contend in their Orange County Superior Court lawsuit that the ride-hailing companies are liable because their drivers are forced to rely so heavily on their smartphone applications that they are too distracted to drive properly.
“We’re basically saying Uber and Lyft are training their drivers to constantly look at this app” for requests for rides, directions and other instructions, the sisters’ attorney, Eric Dubin, said. “It’s the equivalent of driving intoxicated. They’re driving distracted by design.”
The lawsuit alleges that the ride-hailing drivers — Hector Manuel Quiroz of Uber and Joseph Lorenzo Williamson of Lyft — were illegally parked on Santa Fe Avenue on Feb. 10, and both of their vehicles were struck by the allegedly impaired driver of the pickup which then struck the pedestrians.
The pickup driver, Christopher Jose Solis, is awaiting trial on felony counts of driving under the influence of marijuana and hit-and-run with injury, along with sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on six of the victims. Solis is due in court Oct. 25 for a pretrial hearing.
Representatives for Uber and Lyft did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
According to the lawsuit, Solis allegedly claimed he was being attacked the day of the crash by people trying to steal his laptop computer, and he was fleeing from them in his pickup. Solis crashed into a Lyft vehicle that was double-parked while the driver, Williamson, was picking up passengers and looking up directions on a cell phone, the suit claims.
The lawsuit alleges that Quiroz was also illegally parked on the same street, using the Uber app, and his vehicle was also struck by Solis’ pickup.
The collision with Williamson’s vehicle caused Solis to lose control of the pickup and veer onto the sidewalk, Dubin said.
“This kid (Solis) would have made a clean getaway without these guys blocking the road,” Dubin said.
Of the three sisters, Riley Hoover, who was celebrating her 21st birthday on the night of the collision, sustained the most significant injuries, Dubin said.
“Her face was caved in,” Dubin said. “She needed complete reconstructive surgery on half of her face.”
Riley Hoover incurred nearly $1 million in medical bills, Dubin said.
In April, another victim of the crash, Sara Polanco, also filed a similar lawsuit. Dubin, who also represents Polanco, said she was hospitalized in critical condition following the crash and suffered a shattered pelvis and a lacerated liver.