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A little gas can cause big trouble. Sedan service Uber finds itself the subject of a lawsuit—-and with one fewer driver—-after a customer’s burp allegedly sent the driver into anti-American, anti-gay rant.
The trouble started on Feb. 13, 2012, according to a case filed last month in D.C. Superior Court. Arlington resident Seth Bender ordered an Uber cab at the corner of 9th and U streets NW, and got into the sedan with a friend. But then the trouble started.
“Shortly after entering the vehicle, Mr. Bender burped and after excusing himself, the driver became irate and started ranting and yelling that he ‘hates Americans and ‘homosexuals’ and a number of other derogatory comments,” the lawsuit reads.
Bender and his friend got out of the car, according to the suit, but the driver, identified in the case as Hamza Abu Shariah, wasn’t finished. After Bender stepped out of the car, Shariah spat in his face and slapped him, the complaint claims.
In a March letter to Uber, Bender’s lawyer, Khadijah R. Ali, claimed that her client was suffering from “extreme embarrassment, humiliation, fright and emotional distress” after the short-lived Uber trip. Bender is suing Shariah; his employer, Eddine Limousine; and Uber for $500,000 in compensatory dmaages and $250,000 in punitive damages.
Neither Ali or Eddine responded to a request for comment. As for Uber, D.C. general manager Rachel Holt says Hamza was booted from Uber after Bender complained. “Uber received a complaint from the passenger a year ago when this incident happened,” Holt says in a statement. “We immediately followed up on this complaint, and then deactivated the driver in question from our technology platform.”
Uber may not even be liable for how the operators it works with behave, however. In its terms of service, the company denies any liability for how the third-party sedan drivers behave.
Sedan picture via Shutterstock