A Los Angeles County woman, Lal Finci,has filed a lawsuit against ride-hailing company Lyft, Inc., and its driver, Christian Denis Cooper, alleging she suffered physical and emotional injuries after having to jump out of the window of a moving car during a Santa Monica originated Lyft ride in 2021.
According to the court documents, Finci accessed Lyft on July 16, 2021 and requested a ride from Santa Monica to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.
The driver assigned to her is identified as Cooper in the complaint and Finci alleges his behavior was so unsafe, she had to exit the moving vehicle shortly before it crashed.
Finci alleges that Cooper informed her his wife was battling cancer and that he needed to stop by a nearby 7-Eleven at 6th and Wilshire for necessary supplies. Finci agreed to the detour and said Cooper spent 15-20 minutes in the store while she wanted in the car.
Upon his return, Cooper asked if Finci was ready for the ride but when he entered the vehicle, he didn’t start the trip until Finci asked him if he was able to drive. Finci said his behavior was erratic including sudden and needless braking and veering over the pavement. Another driver passing by even shouted at him for his unsafe driving.
Finci said she could see Cooper’s hands shaking and feeling increasingly unsafe, she asked Cooper to pull over, but he remained unresponsive. The situation worsened as Finci said Cooper’s eyes were closed, and his foot remained on the gas pedal, prompting Finci to try to wake him. Unable to get Cooper to respond, she tried to open the door to her right, only to find it locked.
Finci then made a split-second decision to roll down the window and jump out of the moving vehicle. Moments later, she heard a loud crash as Cooper’s Lyft vehicle collided with a parked car a short distance away.
The lawsuit alleges that Lyft failed to ensure passenger safety by negligently hiring, supervising, and retaining Cooper as a driver. Additionally, it contends that Lyft’s commitment to safety was not upheld and that the company failed to monitor Cooper for community safety education requirements and physical health.
Finci is claiming severe physical and emotional harm and asking for an unspecified amount of punitive damages against Lyft and Cooper for their alleged extreme recklessness, malice, and conscious disregard for passenger safety.
Lyft, Inc. did not respond to a request for comment by press time.