Pando

Your monthly helping of serious ridesharing allegations

By Nathaniel Mott , written on January 21, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

I was sure more Uber and Lyft drivers would misbehave during the holidays.

What better to bring out the worst of these ride-hailing services than drunk passengers, family stress, and the continuing decline of the amount of money these drivers receive from each passenger? It seemed like someone was surrounding a powder keg with gasoline and striking a match.

That didn’t happen: The number of reported incidents is more or less equal to previous months. Call it a Christmas miracle, but it seems like the stressful holiday season didn’t push more drivers past their breaking points.Which isn’t to say, of course, that there weren’t some incidents reported over the last month. Here are all the ones I could find, in reverse-chronological order:

Drivers who deserved coal

The most recent development occurred earlier this week when Aliriza Kurt was sentenced to 18 months in prison for sexually assaulting a woman who entered his car. Kurt has also been forbidden from having any women, except for family members, in a vehicle with him at any time and will not be allowed to work as a driver in England or Wales. The assault happened last May.

Before that, people living on a suburban street near the Heathrow Airport complained that Uber drivers have been blocking access to the road, littering, and peeing in their bushes as they wait to be summoned by travelers. Some have also parked in private driveways (or “private bay,” as the original report says) and almost come to blows when they were asked to leave by residents.

On January 15, an Uber driver from Chicago who attacked two passengers with an ice scraper was ordered to take anger management classes. The driver, Chieh Wang, pleaded guilty to battery charges after a bystander recorded him swinging the ice scraper at the women on December 15. Uber is said to have removed Wang from its service because of the incident.

Remember last month, when the Uber driver in India helped deliver a baby in the back of his car? (And then, you know, ruined the moment by deciding to name the kid “Uber”?) That didn’t happen this month. Instead, an Uber driver in New York who was asked to drive a pregnant woman to the hospital while she went through labor declined to drive her -- and charged her $13 for his “lost time.” Uber refunded the $13 but has stymied the husband’s attempts to identify the driver to file a formal complaint with regulators.

Earlier this month a Los Angeles woman sued Uber after a driver allegedly broke her jaw on New Year’s Eve. According to the woman, the Uber driver instructed her to leave his vehicle while she was having a conversation with another passenger and threatened to “go over there and drag you out the car and put you on that sidewalk.” The woman recorded part of the incident. Uber is said to have removed the driver from its service after a “thorough review.”

On January 11, an Uber driver from Georgia was arrested for sexual assault. The driver, John Kemens, allegedly broke into a woman’s home after he gave her a ride from a local restaurant. Police are said to have caught him with “the help of the victim and Uber” and Kemens has since been charged with first degree burglary and aggravated sodomy with force.

Almost a week earlier a London woman said her Uber driver tried to throw her and her girlfriend out of his vehicle for kissing in the back of his cab. Uber told PinkNews, which reported the incident, it “celebrates diversity and does not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever” and that its policy is to “suspend the partner-driver in question while we investigate” allegations.

There was one incident on New Year’s: An Uber driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after his passenger accused him of going 80mph on Los Angeles streets. The driver hit another vehicle and failed a field sobriety test administered by law enforcement. Uber told CBS Los Angeles that the driver in question has been barred from its platform.

Also on New Year’s an Uber driver in Scottsdale was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in June 2015. The driver, James Stough, was charged with kidnapping, assault, and sexual conduct with a minor after his DNA was found on the girl’s shorts and Uber confirmed her allegations that he dropped her off in an empty neighborhood.

In December, a woman said her Uber driver told her to “suck his dick” before assaulting her in Toronto. The driver is then said to have tried to hit the woman’s friend with his car, and the woman tweeted a picture of the driver’s license plate with the message “Hey @uber you should fire this guy.”

Finally, on December 26, Chicagoist reported a woman’s claim that a “rogue” Lyft driver tried to force her into his car. He then followed her for “two or three blocks” after she got a ride from another Lyft driver. The report says that the woman cancelled a ride with a driver matching this “rogue” driver’s description shortly before ordering a new ride from a driver with a higher rating.

Riders being dicks

Remember the (now-former) Taco Bell executive who attacked his Uber driver? Well, now he’s decided to sue the driver for recording him without his consent. That’s right: A man who lost his job and was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery because he was filmed drunkenly slapping and punching someone now wants $5 million for being recorded without his consent.

Before that, an Uber driver from Seattle said a drunk male passenger sexually assaulted her while she was driving him to his destination. The passenger, Kevin Mitchell, was accused of kissing the woman on her cheek and neck and “telling her he was going to have sex with her” before he passed out in her vehicle. She pulled over in a public place and recorded his arrest.

In December, a 75-year-old Uber driver was robbed in Cleveland. He said that a man requested a ride; when the driver showed up at the designated address, a woman asked if he “wanted to have a good time,” and when the driver declined, a man stole his keys, phones, and wallet. Cleveland.com reported that the “incident is being investigated” by local law enforcement.

Finally, an Uber driver was accused of robbing a man whose sister wrote up the incident on Facebook, with her post on the incident being shared 20,000 times. The problem? According to Uber, the driver didn’t pick up the supposed victim because the ride request was cancelled, and “GPS data proves that within minutes, the Uber driver had moved on to the next customer.”