A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver earlier this year detailed her “nightmare” ordeal ahead of a class-action lawsuit set to be filed against the company Wednesday in California.
Liz, 37, fought off a driver who was allegedly groping her under her skirt in the front seat while driving in circles before pulling over, forcing her into the back seat and attempting to rape her, according to legal documents viewed exclusively by The Post.
“Something that should have taken maybe five minutes ended up being a 23 minute nightmare of me trying to get out of his car,” she said.
“It was one of the most devastating things that have ever happened to me,” the married California mother-of-three said during a Tuesday evening phone interview in which she used a pseudonym.
The woman said she had rarely used the app before ordering a car on the evening of Feb. 11, when she was staying at a hotel in Chino Hills, outside Los Angeles.
“I had had a couple of drinks and wanted to go across the street to the gas station and my friend had suggested getting an Uber. So I thought I’d try it, and it turned into a nightmare,” Liz said.
The first sign of trouble was when the unidentified driver insisted she sit next to him because there was “too much stuff” in the back seat, according to the plaintiff.
“I was kind of reluctant to get in the front seat but again this like was maybe my second or third time taking an Uber in my life, so I was like, okay, this is normal,” Liz said.
“He had tried to start reaching up my skirt … I kept pushing him away and he was getting more forceful so I tried to open the door and he locked the door and I tried to open it.”
After about 20 minutes, the driver pulled over and forcefully pushed Liz into the back seat, where he tried to rape her, she said. After a frantic three-minute struggle, he unlocked the door and she rolled out of the car to safety.
“I have pretty long legs, so he got tired of his door getting kicked,” Liz said.
The distraught woman then ran back to the hotel and called the police from the front desk because her phone was still in the car.
Her alleged attacker actually came back to the hotel to drop the phone off, but Liz said her attempts to file a complaint through Uber were unsuccessful, and the company eventually blocked her account without even refunding her $7 ride from hell.
Liz ended up not pressing charges because she had been raped in her 20s and that police investigation went nowhere, she explained. Her friends and therapist eventually convinced her to take legal action, she said.
“‘You should do something about this,’” they told her. “‘Because there’s not just you but hundreds of other women this is happening to, and how many times are you going to let this just get shoved into the dark? It needs to be brought out into the light,’” Liz recalled them saying.
Uber released its second-ever report on sexual abuse last month after acknowledging in 2019 that nearly 6,000 people had been attacked while using its app in the two years prior.
The San Francisco-based ride-share company said that there were less than 4,000 severe attacks in 2019 and 2020 amid new safety protocols like expanded background checks that have led to 80,000 drivers being banned from the app.
Last year, Uber dodged a $59 million fine for failing to turn over sexual assault data in a deal with California regulators. Uber and Lyft have also failed to date to honor a 2021 pledge to release the names of abusive drivers, according to CNN.
Representatives from Uber declined a request from The Post to issue a comment or be interviewed in connection with the pending lawsuit.
Liz’s lawyers claim Uber’s efforts to promote itself as a safe alternative to drinking and driving has made it a “magnet for sexual predators” who are angling to be alone with intoxicated women.
They are seeking millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of hundreds of women in California state court.
“There is so much more that the company can be doing to protect riders: adding cameras to deter assaults, performing more robust background checks on drivers, creating a warning system when drivers don’t stay on a path to a destination,” Adam Slater, the lawyer representing the women, told The Post.
“But they refuse to, and that’s why my firm has 550 clients with claims against Uber and we’re investigating at least 150 more,” said Slater, of Slater Slater Schulman LLP.
Liz agreed, saying that Uber “needs to fix this or just shut the company down.”
“I just hope that in the long run that the company has the heart to do something about this,” she said.
“You know, to put themselves in other people’s shoes and to know that they would never want their daughters or their sisters or their mother to ever go through something like this. That’s all.”