Two women have sued Uber for negligence because the company failed to fire a Chattanooga driver after he was accused of committing sexual battery, according to court documents.
Uber’s inaction allowed the driver to later expose himself to another woman, the lawsuit claims.
Neither woman is named in court documents in order to protect their identities.
The first incident
A Chattanooga woman called an Uber to pick up her and friend from Pickle Barrel in downtown Chattanooga around 1:15 a.m. on July 21, 2017, according to court documents.
The Uber was driven by John Kyle Lane, 26, who had been working for the ride-sharing service since early 2017.
During the ride, Lane allegedly shared details of a recent break up and other personal issues, which the woman said made her uncomfortable. Lane dropped the woman’s friend off at his residence before driving to hers.
Once at the woman’s house, Lane positioned his vehicle to block the the path between the woman and her house, the lawsuit claims.
Court documents said that Lane continued telling the woman about his personal life, despite her insistence on going inside. Lane then locked the car door.
Lane asked the woman if she had issues with an uncircumcised penis, before forcing his penis into her hand and groping her breast, according to a complaint filed with the Red Bank Police Department.
When the woman threatened to scream, Lane unlocked the door.
The woman reported the incident to Uber, saying she felt like Lane was a danger to other passengers, the lawsuit claims, and Uber assured her it would investigate.
What Uber did
After the woman filed a complaint through the app and was contacted by a representative. She recounted her story again to the representative, who said the company would investigate, according to court documents.
Court documents said she was contacted again later that day by a different representative, who claimed to be a manager at the company.
The manager replied to the woman and said restrictions had been placed on her profile to ensure she could never match with Lane again. Uber also refunded the fare and suspended Lane from driving during the pending investigation, according to court documents.
The manager also said Uber would contact her to update her about the investigation, according to court documents, but Lane kept driving for Uber.
The second incident
Just a few weeks later, Lane exposed himself to a different woman, according to court documents.
On August 6, 2017, a woman called an Uber to drive her home from downtown Chattanooga. Lane again tried to engage the woman in inappropriate conversation, including asking her to have sexual relations with him, according to court documents.
The woman declined and indicated she found the conversation offensive. She also mentioned her boyfriend to deter further comments, according to court documents.
As Lane pulled up to the woman’s house, he asked to come inside and “have a threesome” with the woman and her boyfriend. Court documents said the woman went to leave the vehicle. Lane yelled, grabbing her attention, and exposed himself to her, saying, “you’re not going anywhere until you do something about this.”
Lane went to grab her, but she got out of the vehicle and ran for the back of her house.
The woman reported the incident to Uber on the same day it occurred, court documents said.
She also reported the incident the East Ridge Police Department. Court documents said Lane called the woman from a blocked number on August 11, 2017, to try to persuade her from working with the police against him.
What Uber did the second time
According to court documents, the second woman did not hear from Uber until August 12 – almost a week after the ride.
The woman spoke with a representative of the company on the phone, court documents said. The representative contacted her again after the call, saying that Uber would refund her ride. On August 14, the woman received another message from Uber, saying Lane’s account had been placed on hold pending investigation and that restrictions had been placed on her account to prevent her from matching with Lane again.
The woman responded to Uber with concern for other riders, according to court documents.
Court documents revealed the woman from the July 21 incident suffered emotional distress and sought counseling and psychiatric treatment as a result of the interaction with Lane. She also exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome, was prescribed anxiety medication and is currently in therapy. She said her relationships with her husband and young daughter were also affected.
The woman from the August 6 incident expressed similar feelings. Court documents revealed she also suffered emotional strain and the incident affected her relationship with her boyfriend. She also held a fear Lane would cause her further harm.
Court documents also showed that the woman’s boyfriend was offered a job in Florida. Because of the fear the woman faced in light of possible further action by Lane, they moved to Florida. Court documents said this was a consequence of the incident.
Lane was charged with one count of sexual battery and one count of indecent exposure. He is set to appear in court Aug. 14 and 15.
The two women are suing Uber for negligence in not firing Lane after the first incident. They are seeking at least $25,000.