The lawsuit alleges that Uber could have prevented a deadly mass shooting if its 24-hour crisis response team actually worked.
A Michigan man who was taken on an Uber ride by a spree-killer has filed a lawsuit against the rideshare company, claiming it could have stopped Jason Dalton from murdering a half-dozen people and injuring two others.
According to MLive.com, the lawsuit was filed earlier this week by attorneys for Matt Mellen. The defendants include Uber, Dalton, and Raiser, a rideshare technology subsidiary.
Mellen, says MLive.com, was picked up by Dalton on February 20, 2016, shortly before Dalton begun his killing spree.
In the lawsuit, attorneys Frank Melchiore and Matthew Cooper say Mellen requested an Uber ride around 4:30pm. His assigned driver was Dalton.
Mellen claims that Dalton’s behavior was terrifying, as Dalton started “running red lights, crashing into other vehicles, committing crimes – including kidnaping, falsely imprisoning, and battering” Mellen.
Mellen, says the lawsuit, managed to escape from the vehicle. Once he felt safe, Mellen immediately tried to report Dalton’s misconduct to Uber. He felt so threatened by Dalton’s reckless behavior that he and his girlfriend spent an hour trying to contact Uber’s 24-hour response team.
Their goal, adds MLive.com, was to get Uber to deactivate Dalton’s account.
However, Uber support was not responsive, and they did not deactivate Dalton’s account until after the driver was arrested for shooting eight people.
“Rather than following the clear community standards/code of conduct set forth on their own website […] (such as DEACTIVATING Dalton for his criminal and dangerous acts through Defendant Uber’s “dedicated incident response team on call 24/7 to investigate safety incidents.”) […] Uber did absolutely nothing,” the lawsuit states. “Still active on UBER’s APP, Dalton continued his UBER rides, killing six, wounding many, deeply damaging Matt Mellen, for life [sic].”
Uber, notes the lawsuit, “clearly” claims to have a 24-hour response team dedicated to investigating critical safety issues.
But Mellen says he was not able to reach anyone at Uber—implying that Uber either does not have a 24-hour response team, or that its response team does not have adequate resources to assist customers timely.
Mellen says he has since developed post-traumatic stress disorder as well as survivor’s guilt.
His inability to contact Uber and potentially save other people’s lives, says the lawsuit, left the man feeling “thoroughly defrauded” and helpless.
“The guilt kicks in for Matt Mellen; the re-living of the events of that day and night in excruciating, painful detail; the feeling of total helplessness, the sense of being thoroughly defrauded over there being no way to connect with UBER and stop the UBER driving, the Uber driver’s crimes, the shootings, the killings,” the lawsuit says.
Mellen, adds MLive.com, is asking for a jury trial and at least $25,000, plus attorney fees, exemplary damages, and additional compensation.
Dalton was sentenced to life in prison in February 2019. When police asked him what his motivation for killing strangers was, he said he had none.