Houston woman suing Lyft after allegedly being kidnapped, sexually assaulted

A woman from the Houston area, who was sexually assaulted and held at gunpoint while working as a Lyft driver, has filed a lawsuit against the rideshare company.

The victim, identified as J.W., is represented by Blizzard Greenberg, and the lawsuit names both Lyft and the attacker, Kenneth Kelley, who has been linked by police to a robbery ring targeting rideshare drivers. This criminal group is believed to be responsible for a string of crimes against more than a dozen drivers.

Recently, a federal grand jury in Houston indicted Kelley and five others on a total of 24 counts, including interference with commerce by robbery and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

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"My client was terrified of losing her life over a $3.94 ride," said Anna Greenberg, an attorney specializing in sexual assault cases. "Lyft’s safety policies are inadequate and are geared towards protecting passengers, rather than both passengers and drivers. This horrifying incident could have been avoided if only the company would make driver safety a priority too."

Kenneth Kelley

In June 2023, J.W. was working part-time as a Lyft driver for extra money and declined a ride request to end her shift and return home, but the Lyft app warned her that declining rides could lead to penalties, including the potential loss of her driving privileges. When the same passenger requested a ride again, she accepted.

According to the law firm, after picking up the passenger, identified as Kelley, J.W., he pulled out a gun as they got closer to the drop-off location and held it to her head, demanding she keep driving.

The lawsuit claims Kelley described the sexual acts he intended to do to her, including holding the gun to her head as he did so. Terrified, J.W. prayed aloud and engaged Kelley in conversation, hoping he would spare her life.

After stopping on a dead-end street, Kelley ordered J.W. out of the car and sexually assaulted her. She got back into her car after promising to return for Kelley later, but instead, she immediately contacted the police.

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The Houston Police Department swiftly arrested Kelley and his co-conspirators, who are accused of a three-month crime spree involving the abduction, robbery, and assault of rideshare drivers.

According to the lawsuit, public records reveal Kelley’s first known Lyft victim was kidnapped and robbed in April 2023. Despite the driver reporting the crimes to Lyft, the company allegedly failed to inform the police promptly, allowing Kelley to continue using the Lyft app and committing additional crimes, including the attack on J.W.

Kelley was arrested by the U.S. Marshals and faces 10 state criminal charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated kidnapping, and sexual assault,