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First Uber, Now Lyft Sued Over Service Animal-Related Ride Cancellations

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Lyft Inc. received an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint on Monday from a plaintiff who alleged that five drivers denied her rides because of her service dog. The suit is similar to allegations leveled against Uber earlier this month in Florida federal court over its drivers’ repeated refusal to transport the blind plaintiff and his service dog.  

The Northern District of California suit explains that in 2020, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident that left her with debilitating and lasting injuries including traumatic brain injury and bulging disks from her neck to her lower back. Consequently, the plaintiff uses a service dog to help address the daily challenges resulting from her disability.

The complaint cites five instances where drivers unilaterally canceled rides after the plaintiff either notified them of her status as a disabled person with a service animal, or when the driver saw her dog as they approached for pickup. The filing claims that the cancellations were solely because of the plaintiff’s status as a disabled person utilizing a service animal.

According to the lawsuit, though Lyft “claims to have a service animal policy requiring its drivers to accept rides from disabled individuals utilizing service animals, in reality, Lyft does absolutely nothing to ensure that its drivers do not actively discriminate against disabled individuals, resulting in ongoing denials of access.” For the plaintiff, this has also meant legal injury in the form of emotional distress, frustration, and embarrassment. 

The complaint states three claims for relief, two under the ADA and one under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. The suit seeks injunctive relief compelling Lyft to end its discriminatory practices and remove “all accessibility policy barriers that relate to Plaintiff’s disability.” It also seeks damages of at least a statutory minimum of $4,000 per violation and punitive damages, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiff is represented by the Law Office of Rick Morin PC.

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