Lyft is being sued by a woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted at home while blacked-out drunk by a driver from Lompoc who not only photographed himself with her during the attack but then used the ride-hailing company’s app on her cell phone to give himself a tip.
The alleged attack was caught on surveillance video in the woman’s San Luis Obispo County home Nov. 4, 2018, and the driver, identified as Jason Lamont Fenwick, was subsequently arrested.
He faces felony charges and is being held in SLO County Jail on $500,000 bail.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe, on Wednesday filed suit in SLO County Superior Court against Lyft and the driver, claiming negligence, trespass, sexual battery and eight other causes.
In addition to punitive and exemplary damages, the woman is asking that San Francisco-based Lyft, co-founded by UCSB grad Logan Green, order drivers to place cameras in their cars; add a “panic button” to its app allowing passengers to alert law enforcement and the company “of any unlawful (driver) behavior or conduct;” and create software alerting company safety officers of a Lyft vehicle spending “excessive time” at a destination or deviating from the route after picking up a passenger.
According to the lawsuit, filed on the woman’s behalf by SLO attorney James McKiernan, Jane Doe hailed a ride from Lyft after a night of drinking “and had blacked out by the time she arrived at her home.”
Once there, Mr. Fenwick “escorted” her inside, unaware of the surveillance system.
“Mr. Fenwick placed the unconscious Jane Doe in her bed,” according to the lawsuit, “and then proceeded to wander around her home, snooping and checking for other occupants and closing curtains in preparation for his sexual assault and so as not to be seen – entirely oblivious to the home surveillance video system recording his every action.”
Over the next half hour, the man proceeded to “fondle, paw, kiss, molest and disrobe the unconscious Jane Doe,” the lawsuit states.
After removing the woman’s underwear, court papers state, the man eventually penetrated “her intimate orifices.”
During breaks, Mr. Fenwick reportedly checked the home again for anyone else, “took several cell phone pictures of himself with the unconscious Jane Doe, and then resumed his sexual assault.”
Mr. Fenwick left the woman “naked in her bed, picked up (her) cell phone Lyft app so that he could issue a $20 tip to himself for the Lyft ride and then departed Jane Doe’s home for his next pick-up.”
Kaelan Richards, Lyft’s senior manager for policy and safety communications, told the News-Press the company declined comment on the matter.