Ride service Uber faces lawsuit after fatal San Francisco crash

An Uber app is seen on an iPhone. Credit: Reuters
An Uber app is seen on an iPhone. Credit: Reuters

The family of a young girl killed by a driver affiliated with fast-growing private transportation service Uber sued the company on Monday, claiming it should be liable for the child’s death.

On New Year’s Eve Sofia Liu, 6, her mother and younger brother were hit by a car in a San Francisco cross-walk and Liu died, according to the lawsuit. At the time of the crash, driver Syed Muzzafar was logged on to the Uber X smartphone app and was available to provide rides, the lawsuit said.

In a statement immediately after the San Francisco crash, Uber said the tragedy did not involve a vehicle “doing a trip on the Uber system,” and that Uber “deactivated” the driver’s account. The company declined further comment on Monday.

Uber lets people summon rides at the touch of a smartphone button and has entered more than 60 markets, ranging from its hometown of San Francisco to Berlin and Tokyo.

Leaked financials in December indicated that the company, which began connecting passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire about 3-1/2 years ago, is generating $200 million a year in revenue beyond what it pays to drivers. The lawsuit did not specify an amount of damages sought.

Uber X is a lower-cost version of the transportation service with drivers using everyday vehicles, rather than black town cars. The lawsuit alleges Uber X drivers must respond quickly to a request for service using the company’s app, and this leads to distracted driving in violation of California vehicle laws.

After the San Francisco crash, Muzzafar was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and released on bail, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Muzzafar is also listed as a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit. His attorney could not immediately comment.

The case in San Francisco Superior Court is Ang Liang Liu et al. vs. Uber Technologies et al., 14-536979.

 


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