A Philadelphia model says an Uber driver beat her in the face over a traffic jam, according to a lawsuit filed in civil court.
Lorraine Delp was stopped in her car along the 1300 block of Sansom Street just after 3 p.m. on July 17 when Djamel Khelife, a driver for the popular black car service, started banging on her window trying to get her to move, the suit filed in Philadelphia Civil Court last week stated.
Khelife was cursing at Delp and spit at her window after she mouthed the words "Do not touch my car," the complaint said.
When she got out of the car, court documents claim, Khelife punched the woman in the face — the force dislocating cartilage in Delp's nose. She also suffered a puncture wound to the neck after Delp's earring was pushed through her skin, bruising, a scratch to her inner arm and had her shirt torn, the complaint stated.
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The assault was stopped after two bystanders stepped in, court documents said. Police were called and Khelife arrested. He was later charged with Simple Assault, Recklessly Endangering Another Person and Aggravated Assault, criminal court documents show. The criminal case is set to go to trial in January 2015.
The civil lawsuit names both Khelife and Uber and seeks damages in excess of $50,000 on counts of battery, assault, emotional distress and negligent hiring on Uber's part.
Debra Rainey, Khelife's criminal attorney, said the man was not on duty at the time of the alleged attack and that she does not believe the facts support the charges. Rainey said she is still awaiting a copy of Delp's statement to police, her medical records and other discovery materials and had not seen the civil complaint.
However, she doubts the medical records will support the victim's claims.
“My client is not a small man, so if he did attack her as she claims in the complaint her injuries would be much more severe," Rainey said adding that Khelife stands 6-feet tall and weighs 180 lbs.
Uber would not comment on the case citing the pending litigation, but a spokesman said safety is the service's top priority.
The extent of the company's safety practices and specifically screening of drivers has come under scrutiny recently.
Uber's Head of Global Safety, Phillip Cardenas, defended the company's record earlier this month after a driver in Massachusetts was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a passenger. Prosecutors in California filed a lawsuit saying the company's claims that it safety screens drivers is misleading since they do not fingerprint them.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority has been fighting to keep Uber's ride-sharing service, UberX, from operating in the city claiming it's a safety hazard to passengers. UberX is allowed to operate in other parts of Pennsylvania.
In a blog post, Cardenas said that the service would be building in new safety mechanisms for screening drivers in 2015.