Alleged Dallas Rape Victim Blames Uber

August 12, 2015
By David Lee
ALLAS (CN) – Uber let “a tiger loose in a shopping mall” when it allowed a felon to drive and then rape a Dallas customer, the woman claims in court.
Jane Doe sued Uber, Triple Class Limousines and driver Talal Ali Chammout on Tuesday in Dallas County Court.
Chammout was arrested on July 25 and charged with sexual assault. He was jailed under $100,000 bond and when his attorney asked for a reduction, the judge raised it to $250,000, citing Chammout’s criminal record.
Doe’s lawsuit comes four days after Uber Dallas general manager Leandre Johns apologized to the city and to her in a letter. Johns acknowledged that Uber had made a mistake. He said Chammout’s Uber account “was marked as ‘Will Not Be Driving,'” after he applied in January 2014 to be an “UberBLACK partner” to “generate business for his family’s limo company.” But in April this year, Uber “mistakenly granted Mr. Chammout access to Uber as a driver.”
“It appears that the license Mr. Chammout provided when he initially applied to use UberBLACK as a partner was fake,” Johns’ Aug. 7 letter states. “This means he never underwent either a City of Dallas or Uber background check.”
Doe’s lawsuit says this is not the first time an Uber driver has been accused or raping or sexually assaulting a customer. She says similar allegations have been filed in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New Delhi, India.
Doe’s attorney Quentin Brodgon, with Crane Lewis & Brogdon in Dallas, said Tuesday that what his client suffered “is every woman’s worst nightmare and it’s the worst nightmare of every man with a wife or a daughter.”
He blasted Uber in an interview with The Dallas Morning News, saying, “an 8-year-old with access to the Internet and Google could have determined it was a bad idea for this driver to be driving women to their homes” late at night.
The lawsuit states: “What Uber should have known, and could have known through even the most casual perusal of the internet using Google, was that defendant Chammout had been convicted of felony assault in 1995 and convicted of the federal felony of possession of firearms in 2007.
“In fact, the federal government indicted Chammout in 2006 for being a felon in possession of firearms and conspiracy to possess stolen government property, including pistols and rocket launchers. As part of a plea agreement in 2007, the government dropped the conspiracy charge, and Chammout then served six and a half years in federal prison. He was not released until 2012, just three years before the events made the basis of this suit.
“News reports readily available to Uber on the Internet also should have made Uber aware that the federal judge presiding over the possession of firearms case cited the following other alleged acts of violence in sentencing Chammout to six and half years in prison: 1) allegations that Chammout had shot a juvenile in the leg, 2) allegations that Chammout had struck a juvenile in the face, 3) allegations that Chammout had hit his wife in the head with a crowbar and 4) allegations that Chammout had hired a hitman to kill his wife. Furthermore, Chammout’s criminal records indicated that he had been arrested for prostitution in Dallas in 2014.”
Chammout picked her up on McKinney Avenue at 8 p.m. on July 25, took her home, followed her inside, struck her on the back of the head and raped her, Doe says in the complaint.
After citing the eight other cities in which Uber drivers have been accused of raping a customer, the complaint states: “Each time, Uber apologizes. Each time, Uber promises to take all necessary corrective measures to prevent future similar incidents. And, each time, Uber denies all legal responsibility for the incident. Furthermore, in the face of this parade of horribles, Uber persists in pursuing an agenda of actively opposing any and all regulatory and legislative efforts to mandate that it strengthen the background checks performed on Uber’s drivers. This case is about holding Uber legally accountable for the foreseeable criminal acts of one of its drivers, and forcing Uber to institute basic, common-sense corrective measures to ensure that all of the drivers that it places in cars with its passengers many of whom are young women, truly pose no safety threat to those passengers.”
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Doe seeks punitive damages for sexual assault, negligence, disfigurement, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity and mental anguish.
In his summary at the top of the lawsuit, Brogdon describes Uber as “a $50 billion dollar company that rode into Dallas, Texas and other cities around the world, making big promises of convenience and safety. … Uber certainly honored its promise of convenience. But Uber consistently has failed to honor its promise of safety – all for the sake of padding its bottom line.”

From Courthouse News.

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Sex Charge, Lawsuit Bedevil Uber in Dallas

August 11, 2015
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – An Uber driver is accused of rape, and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is endangering the public by letting Uber and Lyft operate there, a cab drivers association claims in court.
The Association of Taxicab Operators USA sued the airport board in Dallas County Court on Friday. It seeks a restraining order and injunction against the airport’s new policy allowing any vehicle allowed to operate by the cities of Dallas or Fort Worth to pick up passengers at the airport.
Until this month, the airport allowed taxicab service only with airport-issued permits that were “limited in distribution.” The cabbies say the new policy will cause a “feeding frenzy” and ruin their members’ business.
“The number of taxicab drivers that will be fighting each other for customers without the maintenance of the permitting status quo is unknown, but estimates are that the number of drivers seeking to obtain airport customers could double or triple,” the complaint states.
Unlike Uber and Lyft, the cabbies say, they must meet safety requirements to get an airport permit, including car inspections and background checks. The association says that 500 to 700 of its 1,400 members with airport permits “derive their business from patiently working their way through the queue to obtain fare-paying passengers.”
The association says it is “extremely concerned that adequate safeguards are not in place to protect the public, particularly after an Uber driver that was operating under false pretenses was arrested on July 31, 2015 for sexual assault of a passenger in Dallas, after having been inadequately screened by Uber.”
Uber driver Talal Chammout was arrested on July 25 and charged with sexually assaulting a Dallas woman after driving her home. He was jailed under $100,000 and when his attorney asked for a reduction, the judge raised it to $250,000.
Dallas County Judge Gracie Lewis cited the seriousness of the sexual assault charge and Chammout’s previous convictions for assault and federal weapons violations, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Chammout, 56, a native of Lebanon, was convicted in 1995 of assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm. He was accused in 2006 of buying military equipment to send outside the United States, the newspaper reported. A charge of being a felon in possession of weapons was added to those charges and he was sentenced to 6½ years in prison and released in 2012. He
Uber Dallas general manager Leandre Johns apologized to the city and to the victim in an Aug. 7 letter . He acknowledged that Uber had made a mistake. Johns claimed that Chammout’s Uber account “was marked as ‘Will Not Be Driving,'” after he applied in January 2014 to be an “UberBLACK partner” to “generate business for his family’s limo company.”
But in April this year, Uber “mistakenly granted Mr. Chammout access to Uber as a driver.”
“It appears that the license Mr. Chammout provided when he initially applied to use UberBLACK as a partner was fake,” Johns’ 1-page letter states. “This means he never underwent either a City of Dallas or Uber background check.”
John said Uber has reviewed its records to confirm that every driver or limousine company owner in the city has had a background check.
“In this instance, however, our policies and procedures were not followed as they should have been, for which we are truly sorry,” Johns wrote. “We are determined to learn from the mistakes that were made so we can do better in the future. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family.”
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The taxi association seeks an injunction, temporary restraining order and costs of suit. It is represented by D. Shawn Stevens in Dallas.
Two customers sued Uber last week in Virginia, claiming a driver beat up a woman and held another customer hostage while he did it.
Taxi driver associations around the world have battled Uber since the Internet ride-hailing service became a billion-dollar business. Many cities in Europe, and some in the United States have tried to bar or limit Uber from town, citing safety.

From Courthouse News.