Family Of Girl Killed By Driver Sues Uber, Blames App For Distraction That Caused Fatal Collision

The family of a 6-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a car in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve filed a wrongful-death lawsuit today against the transportation network company Uber.

Sofia Liu was walking with her mother and brother at Polk and Ellis streets at about 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 when a car driven by 57-year-old Syed Muzzafar struck her, police said.

Muzzafar, a Union City resident, was contracting with UberX, a company that matches riders to private cars via a smartphone app.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court by attorney Christopher Dolan on behalf of the family, seeks damages from both Uber and Muzzafar.

Following the girl’s death, Uber said in a statement that Muzzafar was not actively on a route for Uber and did not have a passenger in the car at the time of the accident.

The company, which declined to comment on today’s lawsuit, previously said it has deactivated Muzzafar’s account and has expressed condolences to the victim’s family.

The lawsuit alleges that Muzzafar was viewing or interacting with his UberX smartphone app at the time of the collision and that Uber should have known that such use of the app violates state law banning cellphone use while driving without a hands-free device.

“The design of the Uber app and driver interface requires drivers to use the app in such a manner as to violate the law,” the lawsuit says. “Muzzafar’s distraction was a substantial factor in causing the subject accident and resultant harm.”

Sofia’s death has prompted an outpouring of support for the family. A memorial fund set up on the crowdfunding website brought in more than $34,000 to help pay for the girl’s funeral and memorial service.

Muzzafar was arrested by police and booked into jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

He posted bail the next day and was released. He has yet to face criminal charges in the case.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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