A Florida woman is suing Lyft after she says her driver repeatedly raped her, resulting in the birth of a child, according to the lawsuit.
The alleged attack occurred April 28, 2019, when the victim was intoxicated after a party in central Florida and contacted a Lyft driver to pick her up and drive her home.
“I am still working to process this trauma and, at the same time, I’m trying to be a mom to my amazing children,” the victim, Tabatha Means, told reporters during a virtual press conference Wednesday. “I need to be a mother to my biological son, whose father was my Lyft driver. My rapist. I love my kids so deeply, but there are a lot of mixed emotions when the biggest blessing in your life can also remind you of your darkest hour.”
The driver arrived with a light displaying the Lyft logo turned on inside his vehicle and allegedly told a clearly intoxicated Means to sit in the front seat of his vehicle. He began making inappropriate comments about her appearance, saying she should not be out alone.
When they arrived at her drop-off location, the driver allegedly pulled his car into a parking space and touched the victim’s leg while she “rejected his advances.” The driver then offered to help her walk inside, and while the victim “insisted that she would walk inside on her own,” the driver followed her inside her residence anyway and sexually assaulted her despite her pleas to stop.
At one point, the driver allegedly said he had a sexual encounter with “a girl” he “picked up [in a Lyft ride] before you,” the lawsuit states.
Means realized weeks later that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was considered high-risk, and she experienced three hemorrhage episodes before she underwent an emergency C-section and gave birth to her son at 33 weeks. A DNA test revealed a 99.9999999998% probability that the child’s father was the Lyft driver, according to the complaint.
“Don’t wait as long as I did to speak up and say something,” Means told Fox News Digital when asked if she had a message for other people who use ride-sharing apps. “I’m very upset with myself for waiting as long as I did and feeling strong enough to open my mouth and say something.”
Her lawsuit alleges Lyft was negligent in hiring the driver, not applying adequate safety measures to the app over the years, not warning customers of potential risks and inflicting emotional distress onto the plaintiff, among other allegations.
“Tabatha got into the Lyft vehicle that was ordered for her, and we have the literal ride receipt with the driver-rapist,” Abrams said. “The driver said, ‘[A]re you Tabatha?’ when she entered the vehicle. She confirmed and got in not knowing that the driver ‘ended’ the ride — which is one of the problematic features of the Lyft App. I’m actually dumbfounded that Lyft is using a clear deficiency in its platform as a basis to attack a rape survivor.”
Lyft also noted that there was no safety report or customer service report made through the ride-sharing app, police were never contacted about the incident and there is also no police report. Lyft became aware of the attack years after it happened, and the driver has not worked for the ride-sharing company for years. The suspect is not named in the lawsuit.
Means said she is “not shocked” that Lyft “is trying to blame” her or push her into saying she “wanted this, or it happened off-app or anything of the sort.”
“I took a ride thinking I was safe. Period,” she said. “You see their light on. And they say your name. And you get in that car, and you’re going to be OK. I trust that, and I’m very upset for not opening my mouth sooner — not doing everything in my power to get proper treatment.”
[…] Means’ attorney, Rachel Abrams of Pieffer Wolf, said the incident “absolutely involved a trip booked through the Lyft App, and Lyft’s attempt to deflect liability is a perfect example of its bad faith handling of this crisis.”
“There is no dispute Tabatha’s Lyft driver repeatedly raped her, resulting in pregnancy and the birth of her son,” Abrams said. “Lyft is correct about one thing — what happened to Tabatha has no place in our society. And as a society, we must endeavor to protect women from sexual assaults. The unfortunate reality is that one out of every six American women is a survivor of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.”
Means and her attorney are pushing for Lyft to implement more safety measures for victims and more in-depth background checks, including fingerprint-based background checks for new hires; training on appropriate conduct with riders, including sexual harassment training; and required cameras in cars with saved recordings, among other protocols.
“It’s scary, but yet, inside, I can hear my own conscience saying, ‘I’m doing this. I have to. I refuse to be a silenced victim.’ And that is what Lyft is pushing me to do,” Means said. “Refusing to take accountability for their negligence while allowing and excusing the crime and abuse committed against me. Before this happened, I literally had no idea that sexual assault was even an issue with Lyft.”
Lyft noted that 99% of all rides occur without any safety reports filed. Lyft reported receiving more than 4,000 sexual assault reports between 2017, 2018 and 2019 in its 2021 safety report. Lyft had nearly 23 million active riders in 2019, according to the SEC.
Full Story: Fox January 12 2024