Uber Technologies Inc. is asking a judge to halt a bid for a default judgment against the ride hailing company by a woman who maintains in a lawsuit that she was sexually battered by a company driver in a downtown Los Angeles alley in 2022 after she sought a ride from an area lounge.
The plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, alleges negligence, intentional and negligent representation, battery, sexual battery, assault and false imprisonment, and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the Los Angeles Superior Court suit brought Jan. 5.
On Feb. 23, Doe’s attorneys filed additional court papers seeking a default judgment against Uber and Raiser-CA LLC. The Raiser arm of Uber typically deals with airport agreements, government licenses and class-action lawsuits.
But on Monday, Uber attorneys filed court papers with Judge Michael E. Whitaker stating that the companies were not properly served according to law with Doe’s suit when the papers were presented in New York rather than California. The defense attorneys also maintain that the plaintiff’s attorneys ignored multiple inquiries from them about whether they would agree to have the case coordinated with similar cases brought by other similar passengers, leaving them unaware that service had been attempted.
“In sum, plaintiff’s counsel ignored multiple emails and a voice mail from (Uber’s) counsel before seeking a default — and sought that default without even notifying (Uber’s) counsel,” the Uber lawyers argue in their court papers.
The Uber parties moved quickly to address the default issue after learning in the media earlier this month of Doe’s attempt to obtain a default judgment, the defense attorneys further state in their court papers.
A hearing is scheduled May 22 and the defense lawyers want the judge to put a halt to the default effort and stay the case until another court can determine whether the lawsuit should be coordinated with the other similar lawsuits.
Doe began using Uber after being convinced that it was a safe service, a conclusion she reached based on the company’s advertising and from her experience taking Uber rides with friends who already had Uber’s digital smartphone application, the suit states.
“She rode in Uber cars and was impressed by the deliberate appearance which Uber had cultivated, that these were high-end, clean cars driven by professional Uber drivers,” the suit states.
Doe requested an Uber ride on Jan. 15, 2022, and she was picked up about 3:05 a.m. outside the Blue Moon Hookah Lounge on South Hill Street near downtown Los Angeles, according to the suit, which further states her expected drop-off point was on Main Street was about five minutes away, according to the suit.
Instead, Doe was driven to an alley, where she woke up to find herself being sexually assaulted by the driver, her suit alleges. The two struggled, but Doe was unable to escape and the driver continued to abuse her until eventually letting her out blocks from her destination, according to the suit, which includes security footage of the alleged drop-off point and the Uber sticker on the car’s windshield.
“Jane Doe is now living from the trauma and injuries sustained that night and will continue to live with this pain and suffering for the rest of her life,” the suit states.
Uber breached its duty to Doe in the hiring, supervision of and/or retention of the Uber Driver, who was unfit and incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired, the suit states.