Delhi rape victim files fresh case against Uber in San Francisco

Jayadevan PK June 15, 2017

A New York law firm representing a woman raped in a Uber cab in Delhi has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. stating that her medical records were illegally accessed and shared by the ride-hailing company’s executives who also discussed the possibility of the incident being orchestrated by Uber’s rival Ola in India.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, former president for business for Asia Pacific Eric Alexander, and Emil Michael, former senior vice president of business are also defendants.

In a statement late night India time, Douglas H Wigdor, the founding partner of Wigdor LLP and Jeanne Christensen, said:

“…our Firm filed a complaint in the Northern District of California on behalf of the woman that was raped by an Uber driver in Delhi in December 2014 (the filed complaint is attached).” Wigdor has previously handled several high profile cases including one against International Monetary Fund President Dominique Strauss-Kahn accused of sexual assault of a chambermaid.

He added in the statement: “It is shocking that Travis Kalanick could publicly say that Uber would do everything to support our client and her family in her recovery when he and other executives were reviewing illegally obtained medical records and engaging in offensive and spurious conspiracy theories about the brutal rape she so tragically suffered.”

US based publication Recode was the first to report earlier this month that medical reports of a rape victim were obtained by Uber executives. The exit of Uber’s Alexander, who was deeply involved with setting up Uber in India, may have been linked to obtaining the medical records of the woman raped in an Uber cab in New Delhi in December 2014.

Buzzfeed had reported that the law firm was contemplating a fresh suit against Uber in light of the report.

“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture. Hopefully, this lawsuit coupled with the changes recommended by the independent counsel will create real change and reform at Uber and elsewhere,” Widgor’s statement read.

The New York Times reported that Kalanick through a spokesperson declined comment and that Alexander and Michael had not immediately responded.

The woman had earlier sued Uber in a US court early in 2005. The lawsuit was withdrawn later that year after what the press speculated was the result of a settlement.

Earlier this week, Uber CEO Kalanick took a leave of absence from the company to grieve his mother’s demise in a boating accident. On return, Kalanick was to take a diminished role in the company as recommended by former US Attorney General Eric Holder who investigated alleged ethical malpractices, charges of discrimination and sexual harassment and leadership issues the company.

Wednesday’s court gives a new twist to Uber’s troubles back in its San Francisco headquarters.