An Indian woman has hired a high-profile New York attorney to look into whether she can sue Uber in the U.S., after one of the company’s drivers allegedly raped her in Delhi in December.
"The woman has come to me in contemplation of filing a case in the United States," attorney Douglas Wigdor told BuzzFeed News.
"It's something that has been in discussion in the last couple of weeks," Wigdor added. Uber is headquartered in San Francisco but has drivers in 53 countries, according to its website.
The woman reported to police last month that she had been sexually assaulted by her Uber driver, after taking a cab home following a social event in south Delhi. She had fallen asleep during her cab ride and, when she awoke, she found she was being driven to an unknown location, where the driver allegedly raped her, according to media reports citing the police.
A New Delhi court on Tuesday charged Shiv Kumar Yadav, with rape, kidnapping, and intimidation. He denies the charges.
In addition to the state's criminal case against Yadav in India, the woman wants to pursue a civil case against Uber in the U.S. over their background checks on drivers, Wigdor told BuzzFeed News.
"The acts that led to the damage, the negligent acts, come from Uber policies in the United States," he said.
At the time of the alleged 2014 attack, Yadav was already facing charges for another alleged sexual assault that took place in 2013, Reuters has reported.
Over the last three weeks, two Uber drivers have also been charged with sexually assaulting passengers in Chicago.
Uber has been banned in New Delhi and other parts of India since the attack. The company has apologized and rolled out additional safety measures.
Women's safety in India has been under an international spotlight since a woman was gang-raped on a bus in 2012. That attack sparked nationwide street protests and tough changes to the country's rape laws.
However, many women's rights activists say too little has changed on the ground. It is difficult for women to travel alone at night in many Indian cities, with the notable exception of the financial capital Mumbai, unless they can afford their own car.
Wigdor said he was confident that U.S. case law showed that the woman could bring a case in the U.S. He said the next step in the process was to file a complaint but he did not give a timeframe.
Wigdor represented Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of assaulting her in a New York hotel room in 2011. The case was settled for a rumored $6 million in 2012, the Guardian reported at the time.
Uber did immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.