CHICAGO (CN) - A Chicagoland woman sued Uber, the ridesharing app-maker, claiming an Uber driver groped her and refused let her out of the car unless she had sex with him.
Vy Ho sued Uber Technologies and Jigneshkumar Patel in Cook County Court.
Uber offers a nontaxi ridesharing service through its mobile phone app that connects people looking for a ride to people willing to offer a ride for a fee.
Customers provide Uber with their credit card number, which Uber charges for the transportation services, so that no cash need change hands between the rider and the driver. It's a popular app in Chicago.
Anyone who applies to drive for Uber must "follow a litany of detailed requirements imposed on them by Uber. They are graded and subject to termination, based on their failure to adhere to these requirements," according to the 12-page lawsuit.
Uber advertises that it performs background checks on all its drivers, and tracks the car once the driver agrees to give the customer a ride, the complaint states.
"This representation adds a dimension of safety to an Uber car over a regular taxicab," Ho says. However, she adds: "Uber does not disclose that drivers can, in fact, turn this function off, rendering them untrackable."
Ho says she requested a ride from Uber in early March, and received a confirmation that defendant Patel would give her a ride from the Chinatown Red Line train stop to an address on North Clark Street.
"Instead of doing as she asked, Patel started driving east and going down residential side streets instead of taking major thoroughfares. Ms. Ho repeatedly told Patel he was going the wrong way but he did [not] follow her directions," the complaint states.
"Ms. Ho then believed that Patel was not familiar with Chicago. Patel repeatedly asked her to sit in the front seat and give him directions using his GPS system. Ms. Ho agreed. Ms. Ho had previously had the experience of dealing with Uber drivers who were not familiar with Chicago and had in the past sat in the front seat to provide directions, without incident."
But she says Patel had other intentions.
He "began making comments about Ms. Ho's appearance, asking her to go to dinner with him, and touching her on the leg. Ms. Ho asked Patel to stop touching her and told him she would not go to dinner with him and she had a boyfriend. Patel commented that her boyfriend did not need to know and kept asking her to go to dinner with him," the complaint states.
Ho told Patel she wanted to get out of the car, but he "told Ms. Hot that she was going to go to dinner with him and have sex with him. Ms. Ho attempted to open the car door but it was locked and as she was attempting to open the door, Patel started driving the car again," Ho says.
She says this scenario was repeated several times: "During this time, Patel repeatedly fondled Ms. Ho's legs, groin area and breasts. Ms. Ho told Patel several times to stop touching her, but he did not stop."
Ho says her phone lost battery life during the ride, but she pretended to continue texting her friends "in hopes that Patel would fear getting caught and let her out of the car."
Eventually, Ho threatened to call the police, and he tried to make her get out of the car on Lake Shore Drive.
"Finally, Patel pulled the car over at Diversey and Clark streets in Chicago and unlocked the doors. While he was pulling over, he begged Ms. Ho not to tell anyone what he had done. As soon as she could, Ms. Ho got out of the car and immediately hailed another cab to get away from Patel as fast as possible," the complaint states.
"Ms. Ho contacted the police and Patel has been arrested for criminal sexual abuse.
"As a result of the attack, Ms. Ho has experienced severe emotional distress. She limits her activities as she is afraid to leave her home. She is afraid to ride in cabs, which she previously depended on for transportation. She has repeated nightmares about Patel attacking her."
Ho seeks punitive damages from Patel for negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, battery, emotional distress, and false imprisonment, and from Uber under common carrier liability.
She is represented by Kristi Browne with the Patterson Law Firm.