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Chicagoans sue Lyft, driver after bias incident
by Matt Simonette
2017-12-27

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Two Chicagoans have filed a lawsuit against rideshare giant Lyft, alleging that a Lyft driver, who is also named in the suit, pulled a gun on them and used anti-gay slurs.

According to the complaint, filed the week of Dec. 11, the plaintiffs, Chicagoan Charlie Calvin and another person identified as "John Doe," commissioned a ride from Lyft driver Jaleesa Rance the early morning of Sept. 1. During the ride, Rance allegedly pulled a gun on Calvin and told him and John Doe to leave the car. When they did so, near the 400 block of West Melrose Street, Rance allegedly followed them out, pointed the gun at them again, and said, "I'll blast you faggots."

The men are suing Lyft on counts of negligence and promissory estoppel, and Rance on a count of assault; they are asking for $50,000. According to WGN TV, Rance was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

The passengers' attorney, Bryant Greening, said his clients filed the suit out of an "obligation" to the community.

"A gun was pointed in their faces," he said. "They were terrified and what really hit home was that they were targeted because of their sexual orientation. In 2017, heading into 2018, it blows my mind that these types of instances still pop up."

Greening works for LegalRideshare, which litigates issues relating to ride sharing services. He noted that this is the second case of a gay couple being forced out of a vehicle; a similar case took place in New York. Lyft reportedly deactivated Rance as a driver following the incident.

Greening added, "From a community perpective, my clients saw this as an opportunity to highlight the issue, and say to Lyft, 'You may have this great PR campaign where you're the friendly alternative, but what hat are you doing to change policy?'"

The lawsuit, he said, was about both "securing justice for my clients and demanding that Lyft took at itself in the mirror and make changes. Discrimination, violence and harassment have no place in ride sharing."

WGN's report is at bit.ly/2pbONCy .


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