A Kansas City woman, who is identified in the pleading only as Jane Doe, is suing Uber Technologies, Inc. after she alleges an Uber driver raped her after she was picked up in Kansas City, Missouri.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Jackson County, Missouri on Tuesday, claims that Yahkhahnahn Ammi was a known criminal with an extensive history of violent crimes, including attempted first-degree murder and assault.
According to the complaint, Ammi was a driver for Uber when he picked up the plaintiff in late January 2017, going by the name ‘Malik.’ The plaintiff says that after a night at an organized function and spending some time at a local entertainment district Ammi again picked her up and took her home. Once home, the lawsuit claims he repeatedly called the plaintiff and asked to use a restroom. The plaintiff agreed to let Ammi into her apartment building, which did not have a public restroom, and proceeded to let him use the restroom in her apartment. Ammi then refused to leave her apartment even after repeated requests by the plaintiff, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff was then allegedly raped by Ammi.
The lawsuit goes on to say that following the rape Ammi attempted to contact the plaintiff numerous times over several weeks and from different phone numbers. The plaintiff contends that she changed her phone number, moved to a new apartment, and filed a full order of protection against Ammi, which prohibits Ammi from contacting her in any way.
"What's reported in the complaint is deeply troubling and something we take extremely seriously," an Uber spokeswoman told 41 Action News. "We are reviewing the litigation."
Even more alarming is Ammi’s extensive criminal history.
Missouri court documents show Ammi has had numerous protection orders filed against him, one following an alleged assault of a woman in St. Louis last December, which resulted in an arrest this past February.
A woman posted a collage of a ‘Yah Ammi’ on social media calling him a “predator,” alleging he assaulted her, saying that if you see him, “run.”
Ammi was also convicted of attempted murder several years ago in the state of Illinois, where he served nearly eight years in prison. His name then was Perrie Gibson.
"The problem with Uber's background checks is that drivers can sign up with a fake name, and they have,” said Dave Sutton, a spokesman for ‘Who's Driving You?’
‘Who’s Driving You?’ is a campaign on behalf of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, which started monitoring ride sharing service complaints four years ago. So far, it claims to have cited more than 200 sexual assaults and 24 deaths from ride sharing services such as Uber.
In fact, an Uber driver with a felony record was banned in Los Angeles this week after he was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman.
"Our members realized how Uber and Lyft were undercutting passenger safety,” said Sutton. "Uber's background checks are name based. Drivers can sign up with a fake name. But for taxi companies, those background checks are done by the government, by law enforcement, and they require fingerprinting."
"Only with fingerprints can you positively identify an individual's identity,” he said.
And that’s why many believe ride sharing services won’t be safe until their drivers are screened by law enforcement.
A name-based background check searches the applicant’s reported name, comparing records only with that given name. A fingerprint-based check, or ‘Live Scan,’ searches all police and FBI records. If the applicant has been arrested before, a match will be found regardless of the name given.
While most taxicab companies, such as Z-trip in Kansas City, use fingerprinting background checks, Uber does not, using a name-based search through a third-party company called Checkr.
"Uber wants to run fast, cheap background checks to keep signing up drivers,” said Sutton.
Doe’s attorney released a statement on his website:
“It is shocking that Uber would hire someone convicted of attempted murder in the first place,” said attorney Norman E. Siegel. “But it is truly unconscionable that Uber would permit this driver to continue to drive for the company after Uber was expressly warned that he violently assaulted a woman and presented an immediate danger to Uber passengers.”
“Uber’s egregious failure to responsibly screen and monitor its drivers puts all Uber customers at risk,” he said.
Uber confirmed with 41 Action News that Ammi was banned from being a driver in March.
The Kansas City Police Department collected evidence following the alleged rape and the investigation is open and ongoing.
The plaintiff is demanding a trial by jury. The next scheduled court date is September 25.
You can read more about Uber’s background checking policies here.