LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles city traffic officer is suing Lyft Inc., alleging one of its drivers followed and menaced her in 2018 because she issued him an illegal parking citation.
Rachel Ramirez's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges assault, false imprisonment, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent hiring, supervision and retention. She seeks unspecified damages in the complaint filed Tuesday.
"She believed and feared that (the Lyft driver) intended to physically harm and possibly kill her," the suit states.
A Lyft representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Ramirez was on duty about 5 p.m. on May 5, 2018, on Sunset Boulevard when she encountered the driver, who she did not know at the time worked for Lyft and who had a passenger in his car, according to her complaint, which says she still does not know his name.
He had parked his vehicle in such a manner that he was obstructing the bicycle lane and partially blocking the slow lane of eastbound traffic, causing nine vehicles to stop behind him, the suit states.
As was her practice, Ramirez says she spoke first with the driver to see if he would comply with parking laws and he agreed and drove away. However, she found him again 20 minutes later a short distance away on Sunset, once again parking illegally, the suit alleges.
Ramirez told Doe that he needed to move and wrote him a citation because it was his second violation in a matter of minutes, the suit states. She did not hand him the ticket and instead chose to have it sent to him by mail, the suit states.
As Ramirez walked away, the driver yelled at her and asked if she wrote him a citation. She replied that she had and that he would receive it in the mail, according to her court papers.
"At this point (the driver) became incensed and exited his vehicle and rushed after Ramirez on foot," the suit alleges.
Ramirez hurried back to her car, but the driver rushed up behind her as she tried to avoid being hit by vehicles on the busy boulevard, according to the suit, which says it's "sadly a common occurrence for traffic officers to be killed by vehicles in the course of their duties."
Ramirez eventually got into her car and the Lyft driver stood "menacingly" outside for a few moments, but he later walked away and the plaintiff believed she was safe, according to her court papers.
Ramirez says she sat in her car and did some work, but when she later attempted to leave, the Lyft driver was parked right behind her.
After traffic cleared, Ramirez drove east on Sunset and the Lyft driver followed her, increasing his speed as she did so, the suit says.
"When he did catch up to her vehicle, he approached the rear bumper of her vehicle at high speed, as if he was going to collide into the rear of her vehicle," the suit alleges. "Desperate to escape ... she drove in ways that were a danger to herself."
Ramirez turned down a side street and parked, hoping he did not see her turn, but he later pulled his car up to the driver's side of her vehicle, blocking her and preventing her from leaving, while staring and smirking at her, according to the suit.
Ramirez says she called for assistance, but her dispatcher was initially too busy to help. Another 10 minutes went by before other traffic officers answered her call and more time passed before police arrived, at which time she found out the driver worked for Lyft and that he had a passenger in his car the whole time, the suit says.
Ramirez suffered severe emotional trauma and distress and was unable to return to work for months, according to her court papers, which say she continues to suffer from severe emotional distress.