Jonathan Melville Pratt claims his once-promising career as a musician was cut short, due to an alleged 2017 attack by a disgruntled Lyft driver. A lawsuit filed by Pratt in Sept. in New York Superior Court Kings County alleges the composer and musician suffered broken bones, two concussions and a traumatic brain injury after he canceled a Lyft ride. He’s suing Lyft and the man he says attacked him.
The alleged incident, which was captured on video by a nearby surveillance camera, can be viewed here:https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Lawsuit-Lyft-Driver-Attack-in-Brooklyn-Ends-Musicians-Career-New-York-City-561353811.html
On May 24, 2017, Pratt, who was accompanied by a female companion, says he requested a Lyft from a Brooklyn restaurant and the driver accepted. The driver, identified as Kouame Nguessan, says he got lost on his way due to GPS issues.
Pratt says he tried to guide the driver to his location, but after waiting 10 minutes cancelled the Lyft ride and decided to hail a taxi. The lawsuit goes on to say that before Pratt hailed the taxi, Nguessan located him and his friend “and began screaming profanities, including sexually demeaning and assaultive profanities.”
After demanding they get in his car, according to the lawsuit, Nguessan then ran toward Pratt, who was filming the interaction, and slammed him headfirst on the ground, “smashing Mr. Pratt’s head so hard he lost consciousness.”
“The Lyft Driver stomped on and kicked Mr. Pratt’s head, hands, arms, legs and genitals. He finally succeeded in ripping the phone out of Mr. Pratt’s hand. He then smashed the phone on the sidewalk so violently that it broke, bouncing 15 feet,” the lawsuit says, adding the driver then tried to punch Pratt’s female companion.
According to the complaint, Lyft did not terminate the driver from its platform until six months after the assault. Lyft allegedly let the driver provide almost 700 rides to its customers after learning of the attack.
According to the suit, the attack stripped Pratt of wrist stamina, dexterity, memory and concentration to perform. Pratt’s complaint also alleges that Lyft is operating illegally in New York City by using drivers – including the one who allegedly assaulted Pratt – without a New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) license. Pratt’s complaint goes on to allege the driver who attacked him also has at least 28 violations, suspensions, or revocations of his TLC license.
The complaint alleges Lyft puts its New York City-area riders in danger and flouts the law by: failing to conduct a criminal background check on the Lyft driver who allegedly assaulted Pratt; hiring the driver despite him not having a valid TLC license; allowing the driver to drive for Lyft on the day of the assault without a valid TLC license; allowing the driver to drive at least 841 Lyft customers to their destinations without a valid license; disregarding complaints that the driver’s previous passengers had lodged with the TLC against him for, among other things, “threatening, harassing and abusing”; ignoring the driver’s 28 previous TLC violations, suspensions, or revocations of his license; and allowing thousands of other Lyft drivers to drive unlicensed, in violation of New York City law.
Pratt’s claims against Lyft and the driver include negligence, liability for not including a panic button within Lyft’s app, liability for Lyft’s failure to cross-check its roster of drivers against the TLC’s public list of licensed drivers, violating New York’s Transportation Law, negligent in hiring and training, fraud and negligent misrepresentation, violating New York’s General Business Law, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking punitive damages, court costs, attorney fees and other relief.
In a statement to News 4, A Lyft spokeswoman said: “Safety is fundamental to Lyft. The incident described is terrifying, and the driver was permanently banned from the Lyft community.”
The TLC declined to comment, citing the pending litigation of which they are not a party.
Source: NBC New York