An Oklahoma City real estate broker claims in a lawsuit that he needs dental surgery after a late-night ride through the ridesharing service Uber ended with a punch in the face in the parking lot of an Arby’s restaurant.
Phillip Mazaheri is suing former Uber driver Tyler McEuin for damages in excess of $75,000 after he claims McEuin assaulted him during a ride back from a Christmas party at the Colcord Hotel to Edmond in December 2013.
Uber is a San Francisco-based ridesharing app that recently expanded to Oklahoma City. The service’s drivers are independent contractors and not Uber employees. In May, U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange dismissed all of Mazaheri’s claims against Uber, ruling that the company was not responsible for McEuin’s actions. However, Mazaheri is still suing McEuin for assault and battery. Mazaheri claims he has to wear a false tooth and will require multiple oral surgeries.
Mazaheri claims that McEuin became hostile and called his fiancee an obscene name when she began questioning the route he was taking up Interstate 44 to Edmond.
Mazaheri claims McEuin said “Do you want a ... [expletive] ride or what?” before letting the couple out of the car, and punching Mazaheri “without provocation,” according to the lawsuit.
Mazaheri and his attorney, Brice Bisel, both said they could not discuss the pending litigation. Johnathan Rector, an attorney for Uber, also declined to comment. The company did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
Ridesharing services lack adequate insurance coverage and other safeguards to protect passengers, said David Sutton, spokesman for the Who’s Driving You? campaign, launched by the industry group the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association. The campaign claims that ridesharing services are unsafe and unregulated.
“These services are under invested in their public safety costs, and it results in this type of thing— it’s not that much of a surprise,” Sutton said.
McEuin, an Air Force veteran who recently separated from the military, claims in a police report that Mazaheri became belligerent and assaulted him. He also claims that Uber was not responsive when he attempted to get information about the altercation with Mazaheri.
“I gave up on the customer service. No one seemed to be able to recall or give me answers that I requested, which gave me the distinct impression that they were being deceptive,” McEuin said in a statement in response to The Oklahoman.
McEuin no longer drives for Uber. He says he received no support from the company after the incident and that he was never trained on how to deal with altercations with passengers.
“... (A)fter conversing with Uber about this situation, they had no rules or procedures that I was made aware of during my hire or trained on during employment that discussed the correct procedures to take if this situation happened,” McEuin said in an email. “Which is why I decided to quit because they didn’t sound like a reputable company, and I didn’t feel safe driving for them anymore. They also would never give me a straight answer when I requested information about the status of the situation and their actions.”
According to an Oklahoma City police report filed after the altercation, McEuin claims Mazaheri and his fiancee began to complain loudly about the route he was taking to Edmond after he picked up the couple in downtown Oklahoma City.
McEuin pulled over in to the parking lot of an Arby’s restaurant at NW 23 Street and Interstate 44 to drop the couple off, but Mazaheri’s fiancee refused to exit McEuin’s vehicle, slapped him and tore off his hat from the back seat of the car, according to a police report.
McEuin also told police that Mazaheri grabbed him by the shirt and that he “feared for his safety,” according to the police report.
No criminal charges have been filed in the matter.