Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Survivors Call Uber App Inherently Unsafe

LOS ANGELES (CN) - An Uber driver killed a motorcyclist on Christmas day while using the ridesharing service's inherently dangerous cell-phone app, the man's children claim in court.

Gerard Jackson's two sons sued Uber and its driver, William Duran Guardado, on April 1 in Superior Court. Both sons are minors; both are named Gerard Jackson Jr.

Suing through their mothers, they say Guardado was logged on to his Uber app and "was viewing, monitoring and/or interacting with his wireless communication device/smartphone/GPS" as he made a left turn and struck and killed their father at Crenshaw Boulevard and 71st Street in Los Angeles.

The Jacksons say that Uber's business model all but forces Uber drivers to violate California laws that prohibit texting or using wireless devices while driving.

The Uber app "requires drivers to use the app in such a manner as to violate the law ... thereby causing distractions to drivers," the complaint states.

Uber's policies and procedures effectively demand that its drivers "not be fully aware of their surroundings" as they drive, the family's attorney Theida Salazar told Courthouse News.

Salazar called Jackson "a good man" and a good friend.

A barber and animal breeder, Jackson was riding his motorcycle a little after noon on Christmas Day when Guardado hit him, according to the complaint.

Jackson also had two daughters and a third son, named Jerry. One has filed a separate lawsuit against Uber, Salazar said.

Uber said it had no comment on the lawsuit.

The complaint explains how Uber selects and vets drivers and how the app allows drivers and riders to communicate with one another by phone, text or instant message. A screen called the "God view" displays a map that pinpoints drivers' and riders' locations.

That constant feedback gives Uber "an economic benefit and competitive advantage," according to the lawsuit.

The app's interface is "both visual and tactile," and Uber encourages its drivers to monitor the app constantly to be near would-be riders, the complaint states.

Using the app as Uber intends requires its drivers to violate the California Vehicle Code prohibition of using a cellphone not in a hands-free mode, using a wireless device "to write, send, or read a text-based communication," and using a GPS device for anything other than "door-to-door" navigation, according to the complaint.

The Jacksons seek punitive damages for wrongful death, negligence, negligent hiring, retention, training and supervision, survivor actions and Jackson's pain and suffering.

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