Family of Slain Driver Files Lawsuit Against Lyft for Policy Failures
The family of Brandon Cooper, a Beavercreek Lyft driver who was shot and killed in January 2022, has announced a lawsuit asserting that Lyft failed to implement effective and available safety measures to protect the safety of its drivers, which resulted in Cooper’s death.
On January 26, 2022, police found 35-year-old Cooper dead from gunshot wounds in the front seat of his crashed vehicle in Dayton. Immediately prior to the crash, a group of teenagers had summoned the Lyft driver for a pickup, leading to the attempted carjacking, robbery, and Cooper’s homicide. The teenagers were connected with another rideshare carjacking earlier that morning, after police responded to a female driver who stated she was robbed of her vehicle, wallet, and phone by four males. Police later traced the female driver’s stolen vehicle to a residence in Dayton, where four juveniles, all aged 15-16, were arrested following a SWAT standoff.
On Tuesday, December 6, 2022, the Cooper family, represented by Wright & Schulte, LLC, filed a lawsuit against Lyft Inc., the two juveniles accused of killing Cooper, and five John and Jane Doe(s) who are yet unknown Lyft employees responsible for implementing policies and protocols. In court documents, attorneys for the Cooper family set forth Cooper did not know the teens were under the age of 18, and policies supposedly implemented by Lyft should have precluded the teens from obtaining the ride and getting in the car.
The lawsuit claims that Lyft created a system last year, which requires users with anonymous payment methods to verify their identity. The system was to be implemented as the result of a nationwide increase in carjacking and assaults on rideshare drivers. The Cooper family’s attorneys noted that the Lyft account used to request the ride that caused Cooper’s death was an unverified account created the previous day, which used an untraceable form of payment. Attorney Michael L. Wright argued that Lyft had the responsibility to verify those accounts, as well as the ability and responsibility to warn Cooper when that account had a recent ride that was completed. Wright noted Lyft knew the teenagers’ prior ride had not been completed, yet still allowed the unverified, untraceable account to call Cooper, which ultimately failed Cooper as well as his family.
Court documents allege that Lyft chose to implement safety measures in only a few cities and areas, despite the confirmed effectiveness of the identity verification system in reducing attacks on its drivers. The Cooper family’s attorneys note that in some cases it appears that Lyft chooses to wait until after dozens of attacks on its drivers in certain areas before turning on an already-existing safety feature that would prevent dangerous criminal attacks on its drivers.
While Wright noted that Lyft does not allow its workers to record their drives, he expressed confidence that through discovery they will learn Lyft’s policies at the time, what the policies failed to do, how they were not followed, and why they led to Cooper’s tragic and unnecessary death. In keeping with the Cooper family’s goal to hold Lyft accountable for its inaction, the lawsuit notes that Cooper’s experience of being assaulted while driving for Lyft is tragically common.