An elderly North Texas woman is suing the ride-sharing company Uber for $1 million after a Dallas-based driver allegedly raped her, according to a lawsuit.
Hashem Ramezanpour, 40, faces an aggravated sexual assault charge by the Fort Worth police department after he allegedly raped a 77-year-old “Jane Doe” fare in October 2017. The Iranian national is believed to have fled the country in response.
According to a civil suit filed Thursday, Doe’s son hailed Ramezanpour via the Uber app on October 22 to deliver his mother from her friend’s house back to her own home—but was reportedly taken on a detour to a “secluded area” in his 2016 Honda Civic where he allegedly raped her, according to The Dallas Morning News. The suit notes that lab results reflected Ramezanpour as the alleged assailant.
Doe’s suit argues that Uber was negligent due to the company’s limited use of background checks when screening new drivers and keeping tabs on existing ones. The Dallas paper reports that in March 2017, Ramezanpour received a misdemeanor assault charge in Dallas County but was later dismissed on November 3. During that time, the Iranian’s credentials to drive under the Uber app were reportedly not frozen. Twelve days later, he allegedly raped Doe in Tarrant County.
In February, the Dallas paper reported that Ramezanpour was arrested after a teenaged female relative complained to her school counselor that he shoved her to the floor and hit her with his hands—reportedly causing bruises to her neck, lip, leg, back, and swelling on her forehead. The driver managed to see the charge dismissed after claiming the act was disciplinary in nature and he agreed to complete anger management coursework.
Doe’s suit notes that neither run-ins with the police on violence charges flagged Ramezanpour with Uber.
The company promised in a statement obtained by the Dallas paper that it was cooperating with the investigation.
What has been described and reported to police is a violent act no person should ever have to go through … We are working with law enforcement officials to fully support their investigation. This driver’s access was immediately removed from the app, and he has been permanently banned.
Ramezanpour’s is not an isolated incident where wrongdoing was alleged against Uber. Breitbart News Network has documented various matters in 2017 alone.
Violence and Sexual Assault Cases
Luis Baez (aka Pedro Valetin) was arrested in May 2017 for allegedly raping a female Boston College student three times in Massachusetts. Baez, a previous deportee from the Dominican Republic reportedly utilized fake names within the Uber app. Prosecutors asked for a six-figure bond amount while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) worked to place a detainer on him. Newton District Court Judge Mary Beth Heffernan handed down a $2,500 bail. Baez had a 2010 Class A felony conviction for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and a 2003 felony possession of a controlled substance. After making the discounted bail, he left town without warning.
Muhammad Fahim, 44, was arrested in August in Chicago after he demanded a 19-year-old fare have sex with him in lieu of payment in his car. Fahim reportedly locked the victim in to coerce her, but she managed an escape as traffic slowed, uninjured.
A lawsuit was filed in November 2017 seeking to build a class-action against the company to obtain all data held on assault matters lodged against drivers. The suit claims that “thousands” of passengers have been raped or assaulted in the past four years. Wigdor LLP’s Jeanne Christensen, who brought the case, has called on Uber to “release data that proves to customers that it is, in fact, statistically safe to ride in an Uber.” The company pledged $5 million would be given to sexual assault assistance organizations that same month.
Customer Data Hacks
Reports surfaced in November 2017 that the company worked to conceal the existence and scale of a cyber-attack suffered at the hands of hackers roughly a year prior. Uber reportedly paid off the hackers a sum of $100,000 to keep the alleged intruders quiet about the fact that they managed to steal names, email addresses, and phone numbers of 57 million registered riders with the company. “The personal details of approximately 7 million drivers were also accessed by hackers, including 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers,” Breitbart Tech noted at the time.
By early December, three senior security managers reportedly implicated in the breach had left their positions with the company.
On Thursday, Uber publicly claimed through a third-party investigative firm engaged by the embattled company that no customer credit card, banking, or Social Security data were lifted in the attacks.
Customer Privacy Issues
Reports surfaced in April 2017 about a 2015 meeting with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick when he was called onto the carpet at Apple headquarters. Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook reportedly read Kalanick the riot act after the computer giant discovered that deleted ride-hailing apps on iOS devices could still identify and flag themselves to Uber—a blatant violation of privacy guidelines. Uber was reportedly threatened with getting kicked out of the App Store if it did not respect previous users’ decisions to discontinue sharing connections with the company. Kalanick later apologized for the incident, declaring that he needs to “grow up.”
The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed in a letter unsealed Wednesday in federal court that a probe was underway regarding concerns about a former Uber executive’s alleged theft of self-driving technology from a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Waymo alleges that “one of its top self-driving car engineers, Anthony Levandowski, stole its trade secrets before founding a startup that he sold to Uber for $680 million last year,” the Associated Press reports. Uber has denied the allegations.
Official Fines & Bans
Uber was served two high-profile sanctions in November for passenger safety concerns. The State of Colorado levied an $8.9 million fine after the Rocky Mountain State flagged 57 drivers with serious criminal records to include felony and moving convictions. The fine was initially triggered by an assault allegation against a driver in Vail. The State also took issue with registered drivers working under fictitious names.
An Israeli judge ruled that the company could no longer operate in the Middle Eastern nation due to its lacking “appropriate insurance.” Uber responded by accusing the court of ruling “in favor of competing companies.”