Thousands of criminals were cleared to be Uber drivers. Here's how rideshare companies fought stronger checks

By Curt Devine, Nelli Black, Drew Griffin and Collette Richards
Video by Collette Richards and Harshal Vaidya

Updated 7:46 PM ET, Fri June 1, 2018

(CNN)For anyone looking, it wouldn't have been too hard to uncover Talal Chammout's sordid past.

A simple internet search would have turned up news accounts of his criminal history, such as his assault conviction or the time a federal judge sentenced him to 6½ years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.

The judge in that case ticked off a string of allegations against Chammout at his sentencing: He had been accused of shooting a juvenile in the leg, seeking to smuggle rocket launchers into the Middle East, attacking his wife with a crowbar and plotting to hire a hit man.

Three years after he was released from prison, Chammout wanted to be an Uber driver. The company did not run a background check on him and he was allowed to drive in 2015. Three months later, he followed one of his passengers into her home and sexually assaulted her. He is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.

It wasn't the only time Uber welcomed a driver who should have been barred under the company's policy that excludes people with convictions of serious crimes or major driving offenses from shuttling passengers, a CNN investigation into rideshare background checks found.

Among the shady drivers who cleared Uber's screening process: A man convicted of attempted murder who is now accused of raping a passenger in Kansas City; a murderer on parole in Brazos County, Texas; a previously deported undocumented immigrant who is now facing trial for sexually assaulting three passengers and attacking another in San Luis Obispo, California. They no longer drive for Uber.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records, according to state agencies and lawsuits examined by CNN.

In statements to CNN, Uber and Lyft said their background checks are robust and fair. Uber acknowledged past mistakes in its screening process, but said, "More than 200,000 people failed our background check process in 2017 alone. While no background check is perfect, this is a process we take seriously and are committed to constantly improving."

Though both companies say they support thorough vetting, they have pushed back on government efforts to add other layers of scrutiny to the screening process. CNN found a massive lobbying effort from rideshare companies led by Uber has successfully fought off additional backgrounding requirements for drivers, such as fingerprint scans or government screening, that some state and local officials say would help protect passengers.

Uber has played a key role in shaping the language of many state laws governing rideshare companies, giving the company authority to conduct its own background checks in most states with little or no oversight, unlike many taxi operations. The company has been particularly forceful in its opposition to requirements that would force it to check criminal records through an applicant's fingerprint.

Of the 43 states that have passed laws or rules regulating rideshare driver background checks and eligibility, none require fingerprint-based checks, CNN found. In 31 states, the laws largely mirror Uber's recommended screening policies, in some cases nearly word-for-word.

Legislative sources from 25 states told CNN Uber directly influenced the writing of their laws.

"Uber has essentially regulated itself," said a former Uber employee and in-house lobbyist, who requested anonymity citing concern over possible backlash from a current employer. The former employee added that in most states, lawmakers just inserted Uber's language.

An email between an Uber lobbyist and a lawmaker underscores the point.

As Wyoming State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer prepared to introduce a bill to regulate rideshare companies in his state in December 2016, an Uber lobbyist emailed him, pushing for a change in the proposed legislation.

for complete article-

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/us/felons-driving-for-uber-invs/index.html

Why everyone hates Uber

The Uber playbook

There's no denying the convenience of ride-hailing apps, but Uber has chosen to expand its reach in a singularly ruthless manner. Billions of dollars of venture capital financing give Uber the power to use unrealistic pricing to build dependence among customers and drivers. And that financing comes with demands - demands from investors that Uber grow globally at any cost. This has led the company to engage in behavior ranging from the questionable to the outrageous, and repeat its exploits in city after city and country after country.

As Uber has disrupted transportation economies around the world, the company's playbook has become clear. By studying its pattern of behavior, we've been able to identify each step in Uber's method for entering, dominating, and exploiting new markets around the globe.

  1. Market entry

    Far too often, Uber will start to operate in a location without seeking permission from regulators, or complying with local taxi laws. They will insist that their model is not catered to in pre-existing regulations, which therefore cannot be held to apply to them.
  2. Driver recruitment

    Uber needs a critical mass of drivers on the street in order to provide a usable service to riders. To achieve this, at the outset it offers an attractive deal to drivers, tempting them away from taxi cab firms. Uber uses its size and funding to push fares below the cost of providing a ride, something local tax-paying firms cannot afford to do.
  3. Use riders as a political base

    By establishing itself before the authorities have time to react, Uber establishes a political support base amongst city-dwellers who value its convenience and relative affordability. PR stunts – such as free rides, presents for riders, or the delivery of everything from ice cream to puppies – cements the company’s appealing image.
  4. Gain political influence the way giant corporations always do

    Meanwhile, Uber will recruit an army of well-connected and expensive lobbyists to press its case in the local context.
  5. Ignore or fight regulations when possible, settle high risk lawsuits

    Uber will often fight or ignore regulations until an official crackdown becomes impossible to ignore. The company will pay the fines and costs of drivers arrested for working without a license. In these instances Uber seems happier to pay the occasional fine rather than change its behavior. In some cases, such as paying for drivers’ insurance, or even a small tax on fares, it can stand to take a hit.
  6. Brush off protests from competition

    Local taxi firms are often hit hard by Uber, often seeing a decline in their income of up to or around 50%. Some chose to protest Uber’s behavior and the fact it plays by its own rulebook. Uber sometimes responds to these protests by hiring a private security force.
  7. Reduce fares, increase commission, increase driver numbers

    Once Uber has established local market dominance, it’s time to turn a profit, and that means cutting fares and increasing its commission. It argues that lower fares, which make rides more frequent, can actually increase drivers’ income by reducing downtime, a phenomenon known as ‘Uber math’. But drivers often report that their earnings have been slashed without consultation, or even warning. The company also recruits more and more drivers – a process which adds to waiting times for drivers, but reduces them for riders, and hence drives down income.

And from there, it’s rinse and repeat. Uber is always expanding, and before this process is complete in one location, it’s on to the next.

https://www.whyeveryonehatesuber.com/#playbook

Uber facing lawsuit over crash involving wrong driver

Updated: 1:00 PM EDT Mar 15, 2018

Paul Van Osdol   

PITTSBURGH —

A Western Pennsylvania man is suing Uber after he says one of its drivers turned over the car to her roommate – who then crashed it.

Austin Lee, of East McKeesport, took an Uber to meet his parents in Shadyside.

But he said the driver who picked him up is not the same person who responded to him on Uber's app.

According to court records, when Lee requested an Uber, his app said the driver's name was Tina and that she drove a Chrysler Sebring.

When the car arrived, Lee said, it was a Sebring and the driver was a woman.

“I did see an Uber sign, an Uber sticker on the car as Uber cars have. I went in and sat in the car and thought I was safe,” Lee said.

Minutes later, the car was on Bigelow Boulevard in Pittsburgh when it crashed into a tree. Lee said all he remembers is “seeing actual blood gushing from my head onto my pants and not knowing what happened, and afterward not being able to turn my neck.”

Lee ended up in the hospital with extensive injuries, according to court records.

A police report said the driver was not named Tina, but in fact was Linda Bruce. The report said Tina King is the car owner and also Bruce's roommate.

King was supposed to be the Uber driver, according to Lee's lawsuit.

“I was just shocked that that can even happen with such a big company, a world-renowned company,” Lee said.

“Then to put salt in the wound they charged him $16.81 for a ride that was never completed,” said Jack Goodrich, Lee’s attorney.

He said Uber refused to cover the accident under its insurance because the wrong person was driving.

“I mean that just makes no common sense -- charge me for the ride but then deny responsibility and liability,” Goodrich said.

In court filings, Uber, King and Bruce have denied the lawsuit's allegations. All of them refused to comment.

In a statement, Uber said when it gets a complaint that a driver did not match his or her profile, it takes appropriate action, which could include removing the driver from the Uber app.

No charges were filed against Bruce resulting from the accident.

Lee said Uber needs to do a better job making sure the right driver is behind the wheel.

“They should be doing a lot more especially with the technology available today to check on their drivers before they even start the car,” he said.

In a statement, Uber said it does check drivers by periodically asking them to take selfies and then matching that image with an existing photo of the driver.

http://www.wtae.com/article/uber-facing-lawsuit-over-crash-involving-wrong-driver/19445200

Uber hit with $8.9 million fine in Colorado for letting unqualified drivers on its platform

One driver was an escaped convict

by Andrew J. Hawkins Nov 21, 2017, 1:16pm EST

Colorado has ordered Uber to pay a fine of $8.9 million for allowing individuals with disqualifying criminal or motor vehicle offenses, or without valid licenses, to drive for the company, Reuters reports. The company blamed an “error” in its background check process for the bad drivers.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said its probe found violations that included 12 drivers with felony convictions, 17 drivers with major moving-vehicle violations, and three drivers with a type of driver’s license required only after recent drunk-driving convictions. The commission said that Uber’s background checks also failed to identify a number of aliases used by their drivers, including one driver who was “a convicted felon, habitual offender, and at one point in his past had escaped from the Colorado Department of Corrections.” Nevertheless, after he was released from prison, he became a driver for Uber. The company was cited $2,500 a day for each day a disqualified driver was found to have worked.

“THE COMPANY’S BACKGROUND CHECKS ARE INADEQUATE”

“We have determined that Uber had background check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway,” Doug Dean, the commission’s director, said in a statement. “PUC staff was able to find felony convictions that the company’s background checks failed to find, demonstrating that the company’s background checks are inadequate. In other cases, we could not confirm criminal background checks were even conducted by Uber.”

In a statement, Uber says it recently discovered a “process error that was inconsistent with Colorado’s ride-sharing regulations and proactively notified the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). This error affected a small number of drivers and we immediately took corrective action. Per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations, drivers with access to the Uber app must undergo a nationally accredited third-party background screening. We will continue to work closely with the CPUC to enable access to safe, reliable transportation options for all Coloradans.” Asked if the company planned on paying the fine, a spokesperson said they were “evaluating our options.”

This isn’t the first time Uber has been reprimanded for its security policies. In 2014, the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco sued the ride-hailing company for claiming its background checks were the most thorough in the industry, despite the fact that Uber does not take drivers' fingerprints like many taxi companies do. Uber paid $10 million to settle the suit. A new lawsuit seeking class action status was filed recently by two anonymous women who claim to have been raped or assaulted by Uber drivers. Their lawsuit is seeking to force Uber to implement stricter background check policies.

Fingerprinting drivers is a common point of contention between Uber and local governments. The company left out of Austin, Texas, after city officials there passed a law requiring finger printing for drivers. (Uber has since returned after a state law was passed voiding the requirement.)

In response to the Colorado decision, Uber notes that the state’s laws governing app-based ride-hailing services are uniquely strict. According to current Colorado law, a driver convicted of a felony for nonviolent crimes, such as trespassing or forgery, in their lifetime would not be eligible to drive for Uber in Colorado.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/21/16685908/uber-colorado-fine-unqualified-drivers-convict

Woman Says Uber Driver Pushed Her From Speeding Car

 

ROBERT KAHN   August 22, 2017

VENTURA, Calif. (CN) — A Southern California woman claims in courtthat an Uber driver pushed her from a speeding car when, alarmed by his erratic behavior, she asked him to let her out.

Katherine Conner sued Uber Technologies and Rasier on Monday in Ventura County Superior Court. She seeks punitive damages on nine counts, including assault, battery, false imprisonment, gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Uber, whose corporate culture has come under intense public and legal scrutiny this year, could not be reached for comment after business hours Monday.

Conner’s 13-page lawsuit is short on specifics, aside from the frightening ride she says happened “(w)ithin the year last past,” with an Uber “driver defendant” in the city of Ventura.

She says when the Uber driver picked her up he headed in the wrong direction. When she complained he told her “in essence, that he was taking a shortcut, according to the complaint. When it became clear he was not taking her where she wanted to go, Conner says, she told him she wanted to get out of the car.

“At that point, the driver defendant became agitated and started driving fast,” making her “fear that the driver defendant intended to take her somewhere other than the destination and do her harm.”

She screamed at him, insisting that he let her out, Conner says, but he ignored her pleas to let her out of the car, “and, in fact, increased its speed in response and began shoving, pushing and assaulting and battering (her).”

The assault culminated, she says, “as the driver defendant was making a turn, and while the vehicle was still moving, the driver defendant reached over, opened the passenger-side door, forcibly pushed plaintiff Conner out of the subject vehicle and drove away.”

She had to go to a hospital emergency room and get continuing treatment for physical and psychological trauma, Conner says.

She is represented by Lewis Adelson with Costell & Cornelius, of Santa Monica.

Uber has been sued at least 433 times this year, according to the Courthouse News database, on claims of negligence, failure to train, exaggerating the background checks it claims to do on its drivers, many injury accidents, including an alleged death caused by an Uber driver using his mobile phone while driving, and class actions about its treatment of drivers, including failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance for them, and failing to serve disabled passengers. Its CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down after repeated complaints about an abusive workplace and a major shareholder recently sued the company to get Kalanick booted from the board.

https://www.courthousenews.com/woman-says-uber-driver-pushed-speeding-car/

Couple Sues Uber, Claims Driver Tried to Mow Them Down

The driver also allegedly threatened to kill the pair

By City News Service

A couple who allege an Uber driver tried four times to run them down in April while threatening to kill them sued the company and the driver Monday.

John Christopher Burget and fiancee Kristin Currey brought the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Uber Technologies Inc. and driver Destiny Riddle. The suit alleges negligence, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. Burget is seeking $4.95 million in damages and Currey is asking for $750,000.

Uber hired and retained Riddle despite her "record of violent and confrontational behavior," the suit states.

Neither the plaintiffs' attorney, Mark Mazda, nor an Uber representative could be immediately reached.

The suit does not state where Riddle picked up the pair on April 22. During the ride, Currey complained to Riddle about the loud volume of the music she was playing and the offensive lyrics, but the request only caused her to become "extremely confrontational and violent," the suit states.

"Riddle refused to turn the music down or off," the suit states. "So, Burget and Currey asked Riddle to let them out of the car. Riddle refused." Riddle only permitted the plaintiffs to leave the car after they called 911, the suit states.

"However, after they were out of the car, Riddle attempted to run them over four times," the suit states. "Riddle expressly stated to plaintiffs while she was doing this that she was going to kill them."

Riddle tried three times to run the two over while driving in reverse at high speed, then turned around and aimed at them again, the suit alleges.

"The only reason Riddle stopped attempting to run them over was because the police were arriving at the scene," the suit states. "Riddle fled the scene in her Uber car and was eventually arrested by police."

Burget, who previously had knee implant surgery in one leg and a hamstring injury in the other leg, hurt himself while jumping out of the way of Riddle's car, the suit states.

Burget has had further surgery on the leg with the implant and he may lose that limb from the knee down, the suit states. He tore his hamstring in the other leg and has had flashbacks about the confrontation with Riddle, the suit states.

Currey also was injured while leaping out of the way of Riddle's car and both she and Burget suffered emotional distress, according to the complaint.

"Currey feared and still fears that Riddle would or will show up at her house and harm her, Burget, and/or Currey's children," the suit states.

The suit further states that Riddle swung an aluminum softball bat and chased for two miles in her car a process server who tried to serve her with papers the plaintiffs filed in support of their successful bid for a temporary restraining order against the Uber driver.

"That process server fled for his life," the suit states.



Source: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Couple-Sues-Uber-Claims-Driver-Tried-to-Mow-Them-Down-440384263.html#ixzz4pqbefuoJ 
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Uber sex scandal as police accuse taxi firm of failing to report sex attacks committed by drivers 

By Nicola Harley 

13 AUGUST 2017 • 12:44PM

Uberhas hit back at claims by the police that it has been covering up sex attacks by its drivers.

On Sunday a letter emerged accusing the firm of failing to report incidents by its drivers to the police.

Inspector Neil Billany, head of the Metropolitan Police's taxi and private hire unit, has expressed "significant concerns" that the firm is picking and choosing what it reports to the police to protect its reputation.

It alleges a driver committed a sex offence on a passenger and was allowed to continue in his job but later committed a second offence.

Uber says the first offence was when a driver hugged a passenger and the second offence involved the same driver touching a passengers leg.

It has expressed "surprise" at the letter as it says it works with the police and has even created a dedicated unit to tackling any incidents which is run by former Met officers.

In the letter, which was released under the Freedom of Information Act, the officer claims Uber is "deciding what to report" and only informing police of "less serious matters" that would be "less damaging to its reputation".

In the letter, which was originally sent to Helen Chapman the Head of Taxis and Private Hire at Tfl, Insp Billany claims the police have not been informed of six alleged sex assaults on passengers by the company, two suspected public order offences and an alleged assault.

He said the victims had been given assurances by the firm that their alleged attacks would be reported. 

Uber says it up to the individual to report crimes to the police and that they will always help with follow up inquiries and "strive to get the right balance between supporting the police in their investigations, while preserving the rights of individuals".  

"While we were surprised by this letter – as we don’t feel it reflects the good working relationship we have with the police and the extensive support we provide – we would welcome further collaboration and to establish how we can do more to strengthen our existing processes," a spokesman for Uber said.

"The safety of riders and drivers using the Uber app is our top priority.We use technology to bring accountability and transparency to every ride.

"Uber does not routinely report incidents retrospectively to the police on behalf of others – we advise those involved to make a report themselves and then assist the police with any subsequent enquiries.

"If there is a serious incident involving a licensed driver they are prevented from using our app. "We always inform the regulator, Tfl, when a driver is deactivated from the Uber app for any form of unsatisfactory conduct and the reason why we have done so, and work closely with them to provide any further information that would be of use."

Tfl has says the letter will form part of a review into whether Uber's licence is extended in September.

A spokesman for the Met added: "The Metropolitan Police Service will not tolerate any offences committed upon passengers of private hire vehicles and will robustly pursue offenders.

"Our dedicated taxi and private hire policing team are at the forefront of tackling illegal Taxi and Private hire activity and carry out regular operational night time deployments to target offenders.

"If anyone experiences a sexual assault of any kind we would urge them to come forward and tell police immediately.

"Equally we would expect those who run dedicated taxi and private hire vehicles to act responsibly and promptly report all serious allegations of criminal activity to police in the best interests of public safety."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/13/uber-sex-scandal-police-accuse-taxi-firm-failing-report-sex/

Uber driver used app to find customer's home and beat him, lawsuit says

POSTED: AUG 12 2017 09:24AM CDT

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court accuses an Uber driver of using the company’s app to find a passenger’s home address so that he could wait for him to get home and attack him.

The suit was filed by David Riordan, who said he requested an Uber to take him home about 2 a.m. Dec. 18, 2016 after leaving a party, according to court documents.

When Uber driver Muntsr Abuseini arrived at the intersection of Damen and Division in the Wicker Park neighborhood to pick him up, Riordan said Abuseini became aggressive toward him and kicked him out of the car, according to the suit. Abuseini then got out of the car and punched Riordan in the face and tackled him.

Riordan went to a friend’s home afterwards and reported the incident to Uber about 2:30 a.m. He then called another Uber to take him home, according to the suit. When he got to his home in Logan Square, Abuseini attacked him from behind and hit him in the head with a metal baton.

According to the suit, Abuseini told Riordan “Don’t f— with Uber drivers,” during the attack.

Abuseini was arrested Jan. 23 in Lake View and subsequently charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to Chicago Police.

His bail was was set at $75,000 and he was released from Cook County Jail after posting bond, according to court records. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The suit accuses Abuseini of battery, assault and causing Riordan emotional distress during the attack. It also accuses Uber of negligently hiring and supervising Abuseini.

Uber declined to comment on the suit, but a spokeswoman said Abuseini’s “access to the driver app was removed after this incident.”

Riordan seeks unspecified damages through the suit.

http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/local/273455962-story

Toronto Uber driver charged with kidnapping 18-year-old passenger

An 18-year-old woman was able to escape after Uber driver allegedly refused to let her out of car

By Trevor Dunn, CBC News 

Posted: May 23, 2017 11:35 AM ET  

A 24-year-old Uber driver has been charged with kidnapping one of his passengers.

According to Toronto police, an 18-year-old woman arranged for an Uber ride on Sunday around 4:00 p.m near Eglinton Avenue East and Dunfield Avenue in the Yonge-Eglinton area.

The passenger told police the driver engaged in inappropriate conversation and made "unwanted advances."

When the woman refused and asked to be let out of the car — a Nissan Altima — police said the Uber driver refused and attempted to forcibly take her to another location.

The woman was able to escape and called police.

Toronto police charged the Uber driver Sukhbaj Singh, who is from Belleville, Ont., with forcible confinement, kidnapping and assault, on Monday.

Singh has been released on bail and is due back in court in early July.

Driver immediately removed

Uber called the allegations "unacceptable" and something that is "not tolerated on the Uber app."

The company was contacted by Toronto police on Sunday, shortly after the incident was reported.

"We immediately removed this driver's access following this report and will provide any information to law enforcement that would be helpful for their investigation," an Uber spokesperson said in an email.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/uber-driver-kidnapping-1.4127526

 

    Uber tried to fool Apple and got caught

    Uber geofenced Apple’s Cupertino headquarters to hide that it was tracking iPhones

    by Andrew Liptak@AndrewLiptak  Apr 23, 2017, 6:31pm EDT

    Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to have Uber’s iPhone app removed from the App Store in 2015, when it learned that the ride-sharing company had secretly found a way to identify individual iPhones, even once the app was deleted from the phoneaccording to The New York Times.

    The article is a wide-ranging profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, describing him as a leader who is willing to break and bend rules to get his way, even if it means running afoul of one of the world’s largest tech firms. The attitude has led to Uber’s rapid rise, but has caused the company to run into numerous crises. The article describes how Uber faced problems with account fraud while it was trying to expand into China, and devised a way to identify an individual iPhone, even after its app had been deleted from the phone, or if the phone had been reset.

    UBER GEOFENCED APPLE HEADQUARTERS TO HIDE ITS ACTIVITY FROM THE COMPANY

    The practice, called fingerprinting, is prohibited by Apple. To prevent the company from discovering the practice, Uber geofenced Apple headquarters in Cupertino, changing its code so that it would be hidden from Apple Employees. Despite their efforts, Apple discovered the activity, which led to the meeting between the two CEOs, in which Cook told Kalanick to end the practice. If Uber didn’t comply, Cook told him, Uber’s app would be removed from the App Store, a move that would be a huge blow to the ride-sharing company. According to the article, “Mr. Kalanick was shaken by Mr. Cook’s scolding, according to a person who saw him after the meeting,” and ended the practice.

    Uber has faced backlash on numerous fronts in recent months, following revelations that the company has used secret programs to evade government regulators and to track rival driverstracked customers without permission, and is being sued for allegedy stealing proprietary information regarding self-driving cars from Alphabet’s Waymo. The company has also faced criticism for its toxic workplace culture following a blog post from a former engineer, and company trips to a South Korean escort bar. This latest revelation adds to the mounting PR problem that the company faces, due in part to the leadership style of its CEO.

    Update: an Uber spokesperson issued a statement to The Verge, :

    “We absolutely do not track individual users or their location if they’ve deleted the app. As the New York Times story notes towards the very end, this is a typical way to prevent fraudsters from loading Uber onto a stolen phone, putting in a stolen credit card, taking an expensive ride and then wiping the phone—over and over again. Similar techniques are also used for detecting and blocking suspicious logins to protect our users' accounts. Being able to recognize known bad actors when they try to get back onto our network is an important security measure for both Uber and our users.”

    http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/23/15399438/apple-uber-app-store-fingerprint-program-tim-cook-travis-kalanick

    Uber Faces $1.1 Million Fine Over Drunk Drivers

    Jeff John Roberts

    Apr 13, 2017

     

    Uber is facing yet another controversy. This time regulators are claiming the company ignored reports about drivers who are under the influence, and frequently allowed drivers facing multiple complaints to keep picking up passengers.

    In a complaint published on Tuesday, the Public Utilities Commission of California says it reviewed 154 "zero tolerance" complaints about Uber drivers between August 12, 2014 and August 31, 2015—and that the company only conducted any sort of investigation in 21 of those cases.

    The regulator also found Uber attempted to contact the driver in only 50 of those cases and that, in at least 25 cases, the company failed to suspend or investigate drivers facing three or more complaints. And in multiple situations, data reportedly showed that drivers cited for impaired driving stayed on the road picking up Uber customers—even when the company had technically suspended them.

    As a result of the investigation, Uber faces a fine of $7,500 for 151 separate violations for a total of $1,132,500. The company has 10 days to file a response to the regulator's findings.

    Uber declined to offer a formal comment. But a source close to the company noted the period in question was 2014 and 2015, and said the company has since improved its compliance and record-keeping. The source also pointed to guidelines saying Uber has zero tolerance for impaired driving.

    Under California law, ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are exempt from a random drug and alcohol screening program imposed on other commercial driving operations—provided the companies implement a series of "zero tolerance" measures to take action on impaired drivers.

    Sign up for Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

    The zero tolerance measures include providing customers with a way to flag drivers under the influence (including phone an in-app contacts) and promptly investigating drivers who are the subject of complaints.

    According to the regulators' report, Uber's system didn't provide a way to promptly flag impaired drivers, but instead lumped such warnings in with general complaints. The report also concluded all four of Uber's methods for confirming a complaint— including a driver's admission and video evidence—to be "problematic" and two of them to be totally unrealistic:

    [Uber]’s second option to receive an arrest/conviction requires a police officer to be present and pull over the driver. And Option 3, the alcohol blood test, similarly relies on a third party to conduct the test and provide the results to [Uber]. Both Options 2 and 3 contradict [Uber]’s own practices, as [Uber] does not attempt to obtain any physical evidence in its zero tolerance investigations

    Finally, the report, spotted by SF Gate, suggests that reports of impaired driving by ride-hailing companies are widespread in California. While the regulator appeared to review only 154 of the Uber complaints, it states the company received a total of 2,074 complaints during the one-year period in question.

    The controversy comes as Uber seeks a COO to help its embattled CEO, Travis Kalanick, address what many regard as a problematic "bro culture" at the company.

    http://fortune.com/2017/04/13/uber-drunk-drivers/

    Uber driver suspended ‘for hurling racist abuse at toddler’

    Richard Hartley-Parkinson for Metro.co.ukThursday 16 Mar 2017 10:32 am

    An Uber driver has been suspended after it was alleged that he assaulted a passenger and racially abused her one-year-old daughter.

    Annastazia Merrett said she was hit twice by the driver when she was dropped off in Elephant and Castle.

    She said the ‘Asian’ man threw keys in her face and referred to her father as a slave.

    Uber said the private hire driver ‘strongly denied’ the allegations and they had received ‘very conflicting stories’ but said they had prevented him from using the app while the investigation was ongoing.

    Annastazia said that she was left with a black eye following the attack and that she hit him back in ‘self defence’.

    Annastazia said: ‘It was the most horrible experience of my life.

    ‘The most horrific thing is that the police just let him get back in the car and drive off to collect his next customer. What if he does worse to someone else?

    ‘I was trying to get Savannah’s baby seat out of the car and unlock the heavy gate at the same time so I asked him politely for a hand.

    ‘When I dropped my keys he picked them up and threw them in my daughter’s face. He called me a “white b*tch” and said Savannah’s dad must be ‘a slave’.

    ‘What kind of man does that? Like any mother who had seen what had just happened to my daughter I moved towards him and he took a swipe at me.

    ‘Admittedly, I hit him back, but it was self-defence. He punched me again and tried to drag me into his car. By that time I was screaming and trying to phone the police.

    ‘My neighbours could hear what was going on in the street and the guy got back in his vehicle. I was terrified.’

    Police said they were called and a community resolution was agreed upon by both parties.

    The mum-of-one claims the driver made sexist remarks to her throughout the journey after a disagreement over whether she could fit Savannah’s car seat.

    Annastazia said: ‘He tried to tell me it wasn’t necessary and I told him it was against the law for her not to use it. My child’s safety is more important than him trying to save time.

    ‘He kept saying to me “I don’t listen to a woman” and “I tell a woman what to do, not the other way round’. His views were disgusting.

    An Uber spokesman said: ‘We have spoken to both the rider and driver about this incident and received very conflicting stories.

    ‘We’re currently liaising with the police to establish exactly what happened.

    ‘Whilst the private hire driver strongly denies these serious allegations, we have prevented him from being able to use our app while the investigation continues.’

    A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Police were called at 8.21pm on Saturday, March 11, to reports of an assault in south-east London.

    ‘Officers attended and a woman reported that she had been punched in the face by the driver of a private hire car.

    ‘Officers spoke to the driver who reported that he had been assaulted by the woman.

    ‘The officers at the scene used their discretion and concluded that there were not enough grounds to arrest either party and a community resolution was agreed by all.

    ‘The following day the woman attended a south London police station and said she was not happy with the resolution.

    ‘Officers are reviewing the case and will be speaking to both parties involved. Enquiries continue.’



    Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/16/uber-driver-suspended-for-hurling-racist-abuse-at-toddler-6512732/#ixzz4bbRY1C7D


     

    Uber Driver Pleads Guilty to Interstate Gun Trafficking Ring: NY AG

    An Uber driver pleaded guilty to his involvement in aninterstate gun trafficking ring that funneled dozens of guns from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee to New York City, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Friday.

    Marlon Manswell of Brooklyn pleaded guilty to criminal sale of a firearm in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree, officials said. He will be sentenced to four years in prison followed by five years of probation.

    The NYPD's Gang Squad Brooklyn North seized 50 illegal guns smuggled into New York City from out of state through wiretaps and undercover surveillance, law enforcement officials said.

    Three others — Donovan Bryant, Shantae Blue and Colby Inabinet — were also arrested and charged for their roles in the illegal gun trafficking ring.

    Bryant, a wheelchair-bound North Carolina resident, allegedly boarded a Greyhound bus from South Carolina to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a 2015 investigation revealed. After disembarking, he then called Manswell to pick him up and drive him to meet with an undercover officer in Williamsburg in East New York. Bryant and his three accomplices helped sell dozens of guns to the cop between June and October 2015.

    Inabinet previously pled guilty and the cases against Bryant and his girlfriend Blue are still pending, officials said. Manswell will be sentenced March 15.



    Source: Uber Driver Pleads Guilty to Interstate Gun Trafficking Ring: NY AG | NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Uber-Driver-Pleads-Guilty-to-Interstate-Gun-Trafficking-Ring-NY-AG-414095763.html#ixzz4ZBH2RVdK 
    Follow us: @nbcnewyork on Twitter | NBCNewYork on Facebook



     

    Report: Two Baton Rouge Uber drivers arrested for DWI

    POSTED 4:24 PM, FEBRUARY 10, 2017, BY WGNO WEB DESK, UPDATED AT 04:25PM, FEBRUARY 10, 2017

    BATON ROUGE (WGNO) – Two Uber drivers were arrested for DWIs Friday morning.

    According to a report from WBRZ in Baton Rouge, one of the drivers had a passenger in the vehicle at the time of his arrest.

    Albert Defrances was booked for second-offense DWI, drinking in a motor vehicle and improper lane usage after his blood-alcohol test registered a .146. The legal limit is .08.

    The passenger was able to find another ride.

    The other driver, Craig Shields Jr., was on call to take Uber passengers. He registered a .148 on his blood-alcohol test. It was his first DWI arrest.

    http://wgno.com/2017/02/10/report-two-baton-rouge-uber-drivers-arrested-for-dwi/

    Lakeland doctor sues Uber, driver after wreck

    POSTED:FEB 06 2017 09:41PM EST

    POLK COUNTY (FOX 13) - A Bay Area doctor is suing Uber and his driver after being involved in a car accident.

    On November 29, Dr. Nathaniel Stephens, an ER physician at Lakeland Regional was in an Uber with a friend heading to dinner.  On the way, he says, the driver caused an accident near Swann Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.

    "My client suffered very severe internal injuries," said attorney Dan Moody.

    Moody says Dr. Stephens was forced to miss work due to a prolonged hospital stay.  He says even now that he's back he's still in pain.

    "Dr. Stephens has a right like anyone injured like as a result of someone else's fault to be compensated for his injuries," he said.

    So he's filed a lawsuit in Hillsborough County Circuit Court against Uber and the driver, Marqus Baker, and his brother Steven who owns the vehicle.  He's seeking damages in excess of $15,000.  The suit alleges Marqus was driving negligently. 

    Moody also questions Uber's background-check policies.

    "If Uber didn't screen the driver properly or didn't do a proper background check of the driver then this case can go beyond a mere car accident," he said.

    Uber does require drivers have insurance, but Moody says, in Baker's case, the policy didn't cover vehicles being used for compensation.  That raises more questions about Uber's pre-screening.

    "We all are here to make sure people that take Ubers are protected and the right safeguards are put in place," he said.

    He says a full investigation is still in the early stages.  We did reach out to the Uber driver and Uber itself; neither commented.

    http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/234184871-story

    Arlington Heights Police: Uber driver went home with passenger, burglarized his apartment

     

    Elizabeth Owens-Schiele Pioneer Press

    Chicago Tribune January 27 2017

     Arlington Heights Police said an Uber driver went home with her passenger and, with the help of a friend, burglarized the man's apartment while he slept.

    Ethel D. Townsend, 25, and Kevin C. Pitts, 25, both of the 2200 block of Windsor Lane, Country Club Hills, were arrested Monday and charged with residential burglary, a felony, in connection with a Sept. 4 burglary in Arlington Heights, according to Arlington Heights police officials.

    Arlington Heights Police Sgt. Joe Pinnello said a 27-year-old Arlington Heights man contacted Uber about 2 a.m. on Sept. 4 after leaving a wedding in Rosemont, requesting a ride to his apartment in the 300 block of North Salem Avenue.

    "He was driven home by the female Uber driver and upon arriving home, the female Uber driver accompanied him up to his apartment. They become friends during the Uber ride," Pinnello said. He said the man went to sleep and when he awoke the next morning, he found the Uber driver gone and several things missing from his apartment, including an iPad mini and a PlayStation video gaming system.

    Pinnello said the man contacted the driver through the Uber app and she denied taking anything and hung up on him. He reported the incident to Arlington Heights police later that afternoon, Pinnello said.

    He said police worked with Uber to identify the driver. Pinnello said a friend later identified as Pitts was seen on security video leaving the apartment carrying items.

    "Her acquaintance was summoned during the evening and arrived at the apartment and assisted in burglarizing this young man's apartment," Pinnello said.

    The two were scheduled to appear in the Markham Courthouse in connection with an unrelated domestic battery case and when they arrived for court Monday, Arlington Heights police arrested them, Pinnello said. They were later charged and released with electronic monitoring devices. Their next court date is Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. in room 108 in the Rolling Meadows courthouse.

    Neither Townsend nor Pitts could be reached for contact.

    Uber officials said Townsend has been permanently banned from Uber.

    "This alleged incident occurred off the app and the rider invited the driver into his home," said Kayla Whaling, an Uber spokeswoman based in San Francisco. "We worked closely with the Arlington Heights Police Department for their investigation and this driver was removed from the app in early September. She was driving on the app for a short period of time and I'm not aware of any other feedback of this nature."

    Whaling declined to say how long the driver worked for Uber and said Uber uses a third party, Checkr, to manage background checks of its drivers.

    Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelance reporter.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/arlington-heights/crime/ct-ahp-arlington-uber-burglary-charge-blotter-tl-0202-20170127-story.html

    Court docs: Md. Uber driver tried to pay for sex with teen, said it was his ‘fantasy'

    by Kevin Lewis, ABC7 News     Tuesday, January 17th 2017

    ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - An Uber driver and youth sports coach has been arrested and charged after police say he tried to pay for sex with a 15-year-old girl he met on Craigslist, court documents show. The teen girl turned out to be an undercover Montgomery County Police officer.

    Police say Asil Din, 46, of Germantown, has been charged with sexual solicitation of a minor and faces up to 10 years in prison and/or $25,000 in fines.

    According to court documents, Din first listed an ad on Craigslist on Nov. 1. The ad was titled, “Any local young lady available?”

    Soon after, documents show that the undercover officer, operating under the name “Megan,” responded to the ad via email saying she was only 15 years old.

    “I don’t wanna lie I am only 15, is that ok?” the officer wrote.

    “Ok. That’s fine I guess,” Din, who police say was writing under the pen name “Oscar” at the time, reportedly wrote back. “Wait I don’t want to get in trouble with that, when will u be 16? ... as long as you are not the police. And I have had this fantasy for so long.”

    Documents show Din and the undercover officer continued exchanging messages, and that Din asked if “after school was the best time to hook up and if sex was ok.” Documents show Din also desired an ongoing sexual relationship with the girl. Din allegedly said he would give the girl $100 every time they met to have sex.

    One week after their initial interaction on Nov. 8, police say Din and the undercover officer agreed to meet at the Rockville Metro station. That day at about 10:50 a.m., Din was identified by Montgomery County Police at the location and arrested.

    Din, who court documents state was born in Pakistan, has a trial scheduled for late April. He is divorced and has one daughter. When asked for comment at his Germantown apartment complex, he declined.

    Court records and a law enforcement source state Din was an Uber driver at the time of his arrest. On Monday, ABC7 contacted Uber to see if Din was still driving for the rideshare app. A spokeswoman called later in the day, explaining she could not find any record of Din in the company database. Seeing as police, court documents, and even Din himself, all claim he worked for Uber, ABC7 asked the spokeswoman to run a second search. We have not heard back.

    This would not be the first time an Uber driver has been accused of an eyebrow raising criminal allegation.

    In October, Cesar Leon, 40, of Silver Spring, allegedly tried to rape one of his female employees at the California Tortilla in Potomac.

    While the woman was working in the customer seating area, Leon allegedly dragged her towards the bathrooms. Police say a struggle ensued, during which, Leon lifted the woman’s shirt, touched her breasts, tried to remove her pants and then pushed her towards the ground. The manager also reportedly stated that he wanted, “to make love to her.” The incident, which was captured on store surveillance cameras, cost Leon his job.

    In effort to make ends meet, Leon applied to be an Uber driver. The rideshare app approved his application in early to mid-December. Police then filed criminal charges against the restaurant manager, turned chauffer, on December 28.

    Last May, Jonathan Hemming, 52, of Gaithersburg, was arrested for allegedly attempting to shoot and kill Montgomery County Police officers with a homemade gun. The cops, assigned to the Repeat Offender Unit, were seeking to arrest Hemming on a bench warrant for multiple drug offenses, court documents indicate.

    Hemming, however, allegedly resisted, abruptly slamming the front driver's side door of his silver Honda Civic - the same car he drove Uber passengers in. A dramatic struggle ensued, during which police say Hemming grabbed a homemade handgun capable of firing shotgun rounds from the front passenger glove compartment. He proceeded to point the gun at two detectives' heads, attempting, but unsuccessfully firing the weapon, police say.

    After placing Hemming in handcuffs, officers found a needle cap, prescription vial, syringe, rubber tie off straps, live shotgun shells, live handgun rounds, pill bottle, metal pill holder, handcuff key, garden clippers, and pocket knife in his pant pockets. They located a second homemade weapon in his vehicle. According to court documents, during a sit down interview with homicide detectives, Hemming stated he researched how to build firearms online. He also explained that he knew the devices were capable of firing.

    ABC7 learned Hemming has a lengthy felony record in Florida, Maryland and Ohio for crimes like weapons possession, arson, armed robbery, burglary, cocaine possession, vehicle theft and destruction of property.

     

    http://foxbaltimore.com/news/local/court-docs-md-uber-driver-tried-to-pay-for-sex-with-teen-said-it-was-his-fantasy

    13-year-old boy sues Uber over Hollywood death of film director dad

     

    POSTED BY TONI MCALLISTER ON JANUARY 16, 2017 IN LIFE 

    The son of a Portuguese cinematographer, producer and film director killed in a collision with an Uber driver in the Hollywood area in 2016 is suing the ride-hailing service.

    The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13-year-old Joaquim Timoner, whose 41-year-old father, Vasco Lucas Nunes, was killed last March 11 at Beverly Boulevard and Hudson Avenue.

    The wrongful death suit filed on the youngster’s behalf by his paternal grandmother, Andrea Doane Timoner, names Uber Technologies Inc. and Uber driver Andre Zamon Ausler and seeks unspecified damages.

    The lawsuit alleges Ausler was using the Uber app at the time of the 11:30 a.m. collision even though doing so causes drivers to be distracted.

    An Uber representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

    According to the complaint filed Friday, Ausler was driving west with a passenger on Beverly Boulevard when he made a left turn into the path of Nunes, who was on a motorcycle. Nunes was propelled into the air and landed on the pavement, where he was given CPR by a good Samaritan.

    “Unfortunately, Mr. Nunes succumbed to his injuries and died moments later,” according to the lawsuit.

    Nunes’ work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

    –City News Service

    http://mynewsla.com/life/2017/01/16/13-year-old-boy-sues-uber-over-hollywood-death-of-film-director-dad/

    Dallas woman sues Uber after crash changed her life

    Local regulators need to WAKE UP! Protect the general public from this! 

    Uber and Lyft’s arguments against fingerprinting make little sense

     

    By Editorial Board January 2

    MANY OF the nation’s biggest cities have tried to require ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft to establish fingerprint background checks for their drivers, in the interest of public safety, only to discover that the companies, which hate the idea, have them over a barrel. The pressure on local leaders can be intense: Don’t they want their town to remain in (or join) the 21st century? And what about the thousands of people who make ends meet as part-time drivers in the gig economy — don’t they deserve the extra income?

    In the face of threats by Uber and Lyft to leave or stay out of a city, a county or even an entire state, many public officials have buckled, much as Maryland’s Public Service Commission did last month in dropping its effort to force fingerprint background checks. (It did beef up rules for biographic background checks.)

    The fact is that fingerprinting is widely required for bus, taxi and limousine drivers; it is generally regarded by law enforcement as the gold standard of background checks. Given reports nationally that some gig drivers have assaulted passengers, fingerprinting makes sense as an added measure to protect the public.

    Uber and Lyft complain that fingerprinting is unfair, onerous, racially tilted and unreliable. Those arguments are largely specious. For one thing, both firms submit to the requirement in New York City, and Uber also does so in Houston. In other words, if the city (and profit potential) is big enough, the firms suck it up and bear the burden. And if the city isn’t big enough, the firms have shown themselves willing to walk, as they did when voters in Austinpassed a ballot measure requiring fingerprint background checks this past spring.

    The firms say they worry fingerprinting is a hassle that may discourage the flow of new drivers — about a half-million have already signed up across the country. In fact, the burden is minimal: In Houston, prospective Uber drivers pay about $40 to be fingerprinted, a process that takes about 10 minutes.

    As for the argument that fingerprinting disadvantages black prospective drivers because they are disproportionately and sometimes erroneously represented in criminal databases — well, yes. Yet few dispute that fingerprinting provides the public with added protection when it comes to hiring bus drivers, teachers, security guards, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, nurses, government employees and many other prospective employees in sensitive occupations that involve interacting with the public.

    The firms’ real reason for opposing fingerprinting may be that it (slightly) strengthens the argument that their drivers are employees and not, as Uber and Lyft insist, private contractors. As employees, they would be eligible to press for a range of benefits that would upend the firms’ labor costs and business models.

    Uber and Lyft say their own biographic background checks, performed by private contractors, are just as efficient in weeding out applicants with criminal backgrounds. Not many law enforcement agencies buy that. Fingerprinting isn’t a foolproof tool for background checks, but neither are the biographic databases used by the ride-booking services now. The best way to protect the public is to insist on both.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-and-lyfts-arguments-against-fingerprinting-make-little-sense/2017/01/02/a0926aae-ce1b-11e6-b8a2-8c2a61b0436f_story.html?utm_term=.a0666c9bb1b9