City Desk

Uber Driver Allegedly Assaults Customer for Burping

A little gas can cause big trouble. Sedan service Uber finds itself the subject of a lawsuit—and with one fewer driver—after a customer's burp allegedly sent the driver into anti-American, anti-gay rant.

The trouble started on Feb. 13, 2012, according to a case filed last month in D.C. Superior Court. Arlington resident Seth Bender ordered an Uber cab at the corner of 9th and U streets NW, and got into the sedan with a friend. But then the trouble started.

"Shortly after entering the vehicle, Mr. Bender burped and after excusing himself, the driver became irate and started ranting and yelling that he 'hates Americans and 'homosexuals' and a number of other derogatory comments," the lawsuit reads.

Bender and his friend got out of the car, according to the suit, but the driver, identified in the case as Hamza Abu Shariah, wasn't finished. After Bender stepped out of the car, Shariah  spat in his face and slapped him, the complaint claims.

In a March letter to Uber, Bender's lawyer, Khadijah R. Ali, claimed that her client was suffering from "extreme embarrassment, humiliation, fright and emotional distress" after the short-lived Uber trip. Bender is suing Shariah; his employer, Eddine Limousine; and Uber for $500,000 in compensatory dmaages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Neither Ali or Eddine responded to a request for comment. As for Uber, D.C. general manager Rachel Holt says Hamza was booted from Uber after Bender complained. "Uber received a complaint from the passenger a year ago when this incident happened," Holt says in a statement. "We immediately followed up on this complaint, and then deactivated the driver in question from our technology platform."

Uber may not even be liable for how the operators it works with behave, however. In its terms of service, the company denies any liability for how the third-party sedan drivers behave.

Sedan picture via Shutterstock

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  • EdTheRed

    Up next:

    Uber Driver Allegedly Assaults Customer For Criticizing His Music

    A little classic rock can cause big trouble. Sedan service Uber finds itself the subject of a lawsuit—and with one fewer driver—after a customer's critical comment about famous classic rockers The Eagles allegedly sent the driver into a violent fit of rage.

    The trouble started on Feb. 13, 2012, according to a case filed last month in D.C. Superior Court. Los Angeles resident Jeffrey Lebowski, visiting the District on "business," [ed. note: when asked what exactly his line of business was, Mr. Lebowski admitted that he is, in fact, unemployed] ordered an Uber cab at the corner of 9th and U streets NW, and got into the sedan. But then the trouble started.

    "Shortly after entering the vehicle, Mr. Lebowski asked the driver to change the radio station, which was playing a song by the Eagles. The driver became irate and started ranting and yelling that if Mr. Lebowski did not like his choice in music, he could "Get [his] own f*cking cab." Mr. Lebowski repeated his request, stating that he had had a "rough night," and that he "...hates the f*cking Eagles, man."

    The driver then stopped the vehicle and physically ejected Mr. Lebowski from the cab.

    In a March letter to Uber, Lebwoski's lawyer, Ron Kuby, claimed that his client was suffering from "extreme embarrassment, humiliation, fright and the occasional acid flashback" after the short-lived Uber trip. Lebowski is suing for 500,000 bones, clams, or whatever you call them in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

  • BP

    Well done, Ed. Well done.

  • anons

    Ok, I get it. You had a sucky car ride and someone spit on you.

    In what universe does this ridiculous yuppie think that is worth 750,000 dollars?

    This country is so litigous it is astonishing. Lemmie guess, you had your parents sue the bully in 3rd grade for 1 million dollar because knocked you down and took your milk money.

    Awwww...you suffered embarrasment? Poor child...thats "totally" worth 3qtr of a million bucks.

    Had you handled this like an adult and approached uber with the complaint looking for a realistic solution, you could have easily gotten the driver removed (which they were) and probably a couple grand in free uber rides.

    No, you instead stick some ambulance chasing lawyer on them, sue them for 3 qtr of a million without bothering to read the disclaimer on their website, and now neither you or your lawyer is going to get anything from Uber, and MAYBE some legal fees from the drivers company.

...