Former Uber driver charged in US with manslaughter

New York: Amid growing global uproar against US-based taxi service company Uber, a former driver with the company has been charged with manslaughter in the death of a six-year-old girl when he rammed his car into the family as it was crossing a street last year.

Syed Muzzafar, who was working for Uber in San Francisco, hit Huan Kuang, her 4-year-old son Anthony Liu and six-year- old daughter Sophia Liu as they were crossing the street on December 31 last year. Muzzafar collided his Uber car in the family, seriously injuring Kuang and her son.

The young girl succumbed to her injuries. Kuang had filed a lawsuit against Uber and Muzzafar in January this year in which she had said that Uber breached its duty of applying "reasonable care" in "hiring, training and supervision" of its drivers.

She had said in the complaint that Muzzafar was "unfit" to be a "provider of transportation and was not "adequately trained or supervised" in his driving. Muzzafar was charged yesterday in a California court with misdemeanour vehicular manslaughter, which carries penalties of up to one year of jail time.

The case that the family filed against Uber still remains unresolved. A report in Time magazine said that according to court documents, Muzzafar was in between UberX fares when the accident happened. Meanwhile, a report in the Huffington Post said that Chicago police is also investigating an allegation that an Uber driver had raped a female customer.

Chicago police said they have been in contact with the woman as well as Uber personnel, but declined to give further details. The charges against the former Uber driver come at a time when the company is facing severe backlash in India and other cities across the world over concerns about safety and drivers' negligence. In New Delhi, the company has been banned after a woman executive accused an Uber driver of raping her.

In growing legal trouble for Uber, the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles have filed a lawsuit against the company for making false and misleading statements to consumers, including about the quality of background checks it performs on drivers. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey filed a civil complaint against Uber alleging that the company engaged in a variety of unlawful business practices in violation of California business laws.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction requiring Uber to stop violating California law. It also seeks civil penalties for each of the unlawful business acts and practices, as well as full restitution for all California consumers who paid the airport toll. Uber has been facing increasing backlash in cities across the world because of its operations and drivers.

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