AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the women police say a ride-hailing driver attempted to sexually assault in June is suing the driver and the ride-share company for more than a million dollars.
The plaintiff, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe, has filed a lawsuit against Lyft and Daniel H. Kifle, 46, alleging both sexual assault and negligence.
Kifle is accused of attempting to abduct and sexually assault multiple women at the beginning of June by posing as their requested driver, police say. Records from Lyft showed Kifle’s vehicle was in the area of pickup and drop off in all of the alleged cases, however, police say he wasn’t actively using any rideshare app at the time of the incidents.
The victim’s attorney, Patrick Luff, says the case is about holding Lyft responsible in trying to prevent incidents like these.
“The actual company will try to put the blame on the driver. Lyft is actually the company and the party that has the most power to prevent these incidents from occurring,” Luff said. “Lyft’s platform has still created a system that allows people like Mr. Kifle to identify potential victims of sexual assault.”
In an emailed statement in response to our initial report in July following Kifle’s arrest, Lyft said, “The situations being described are truly frightening. Our thoughts are with the victims of these senseless acts. These rides did not happen on the Lyft platform, but we have been assisting law enforcement with their investigation and will continue to do so moving forward.”
Luff says the rideshare company needs to do more to ensure they’re upholding their promise and commitment to passenger safety — that’s why he says his team believed it was necessary to file a lawsuit.
“These assaults continue to happen and so, we felt it was absolutely necessary — not just for our client’s benefit, but also to protect the safety of any rideshare passenger,” added Luff.
Specifically, Luff said Lyft has the ability and the responsibility to find software weaknesses and fix them so the application cannot be used to prey on women.
“This driver was taking other people’s fares,” he said. “From Lyft’s perspective, they get notification that this passenger was a ‘no show,’ and so, that should put Lyft on notice, that it needs to do further investigation into what happened.”
KXAN has reached out to the attorney representing Kifle in his criminal case. It was not immediately clear whether he has representation yet for the civil case.
For more information about Lyft and its safety practices, visit their website.