Delhi rape victim hires a high-profile NY lawyer to sue Uber in US

The 25-year-old woman allegedly raped by an Uber cab driver in December 2014 now plans to sue the smartphone taxi service for negligence in the US. She has instructed Douglas Wigdor, one of New York’s most high-profile litigators to represent her, the Guardian reported today. Douglas Widgor most famously represented Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who settled for a rumoured $6m with former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2012 over an alleged assault.

Wigdor is looking at asking a United States court to exercise jurisdiction in the case, given that the California-headquartered company’s policy originating in the United States, the Guardian reported.

"I can confirm that I have been retained by the young lady who was raped by an Uber driver in Delhi, India, last December. Having met extensively with her and her family while in Delhi, I can only compliment them for their bravery and fortitude during this very difficult time. We will use all of our resources to vindicate my client’s rights, hold those responsible for their actions and ensure that this doesn’t happen again," Wigdor was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

On Thursday, the woman executive allegedly raped by Uber taxi driver Shiv Kumar Yadav identified him as the rapist during the recording of her statement in the first day of the trial.

 Delhi rape victim hires a high-profile NY lawyer to sue Uber in US

Reuters

"She told the court that the accused had threatened and slapped her while committing rape upon her," sources were quoted as saying by IANS.They added she had also deposed that she felt sleepy after taking the cab and when she woke up, she found that the cab had been stopped in an isolated area  where  the crime was committed.

Earlier this week, the court charges under sections 376(2)(m) (while committing rape causing grievous bodily harm or endangering life of a woman), 366 (kidnapping or abducting woman), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code against Yadav.

In addition to the state’s criminal case against Yadav in India, the woman wants to pursue a civil case against Uber in the US over their background checks on drivers.

On January 1, 2015, the rape survivor came  forward and loudly proclaimed via national media her refusal to be cowed down by what has happened to her and hide behind the anonymity of the faceless, nameless 'rape victim' tag.

The lawsuit comes even as Uber has promised safer trips and “going above and beyond required government verification” while performing background checks in India. The taxi aggregator plans to introduce enhanced police and document verification, stringent background checks, in-app safety features and a dedicated customer support center.

“We are engaging local and global experts to evaluate the most effective background screening solution across India; pilot programs are already running in select cities, including Delhi,” Uber said in a statement.

The company has come out with an in-app feature called ‘ShareMyETA’ that allows a customer to send the location, driver photo, name and vehicle license no. to their loved ones.

In fact it is even considering a significant change to its business model in New Delhi in order to overcome the ban on its car-hailing services post the rape incident. On Thursday, Times of India reported that Uber is mulling the option of applying for a license to operate as a radio taxi company which requires the aggregator to maintain a fleet of at least 200 taxis either owned by them or through an agreement with individual taxi permit holders. They can, however, begin services with 50 cabs, within a month of the licence being granted to them. ( Read more here)

Uber has been under increasing scrutiny in the United States and other countries because of passenger safety issues. The district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles last month had filed a lawsuit against Uber for misleading customers about its background checks on drivers.It has has also faced bans at one point or another in cities across the world, and many disputes with authorities remain unsettled.

A court challenge against Uber in the Netherlands resulted in an injunction against the ride-sharing service, with a court saying the company can't work with drivers who don't have a license, reported Time magazine. In September, courts in Berlin and Hamburg ruled the company did not comply with German laws and officially banned the service from using unlicensed taxi drivers, according to the magazine.

In Toronto, Canada, authorities argued last month that Uber is "jeopardizing public safety" and are getting ready to fight the ride-sharing service in court, Time said.Uber halted operations in Nevada after it issued a statewide ban against the service in December 2014, with a court arguing the company operates like a taxi business.

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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2015 13:43:29 IST


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