Uber Faces $10M Suit Over Driver’s Fatal Assault On Cabbie
The family of a Pakistani taxi driver filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Uber and one of its drivers who fatally attacked the cabdriver in the West Loop Gate neighborhood in September.
Anis Tungekar, 64, suffered fatal brain injuries after being kicked in the head by a 30-year-old Uber driver as he walked away from a traffic dispute in the first block of North Jefferson Street on Sept. 2, according to the Tungekar family’s attorney, Michael Gallagher. Gallagher filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Uber and its driver, Fangqi Lu.
“There was a minor traffic disagreement that ended suddenly and violently when the Uber driver attacked Mr. Tungekar by kicking him in the head. Mr. Tungekar never laid a hand on the Uber driver,” Gallagher said.
Tungekar was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died two days later without ever regaining consciousness. The medical examiner’s office ruled Tungekar’s death a homicide from blunt force trauma to the head. Gallagher said Tungekar suffered severe brain damage.
Lu’s violent tendencies surfaced during the investigation into the Uber driver by Gallagher and his firm, Wise Morrissey LLC.
Last July 1, Chicago attorney Scott Gore had summoned a ride-share to take him from his North Side home to a Cubs game. But as game-day traffic slowed his progress, Gore asked his driver, Lu, to take an alternate route and an argument ensued, Gallagher said.
“Lu refused Gore’s requests and began to verbally threaten him,” Gallagher said. “As Gore exited the vehicle, he was viciously attacked by Lu who punched Gore in the face knocking him to the ground. Once Lu fled the scene, Gore contacted the Chicago Police to file a report and called Uber later and informed Uber that he was attacked by a driver and provided Lu’s name and telephone number.”
The Uber representative informed Gore that Uber would investigate the matter, according to Gallagher.
Making matters worse, Gallagher said, Lu had been issued a temporary driver’s license on 3/22/18 which expired on 6/20/18. According to Illinois law and Uber’s own policies, Lu’s Uber driving privileges should have been suspended and he should not have been able to drive.
“Unfortunately, Uber never contacted Gore for further investigation and Lu was allowed to continue to drive for the company despite being informed of his propensity for violence, leading to the fatal confrontation with Mr. Tungekar months later” said Gallagher.
In pressing the lawsuit, the victim’s younger son, Rehman Tungekar, said: “My father worked hard from dawn to dusk to make a living. Despite how hard the taxi business is, he kept at it because he had hope for a brighter future for himself and his family. We could never have imagined that hope would be extinguished by an Uber driver walking up behind him and kicking him to death.”
The victim’s elder son, Omar Tungekar, said: “There are regulations that prevent violent and unlicensed drivers from driving a taxi. But Uber gave Lu a platform to bypass those rules and the opportunity to follow up his attack on a passenger by killing my father.”
Late last year, Lu fled the country after being released from police custody when Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office failed to charge the Uber driver within the statutory 48 hours. An arrest warrant charging Lu with first-degree murder was eventually issued in December, but by then he had returned to his native China where he could be shielded from extradition.
Omar Tungekar explained: “My father was just trying to earn a living when he was killed. I couldn’t protect him from the Uber driver. I couldn’t predict the State’s Attorney would take actions that allowed his killer to flee. But I can seek answers and justice for the senseless attack that took his life.”
Anis Tungekar wasn’t supposed to be working that Sunday afternoon, but he had some bills due soon and the holiday weekend crowds would help make ends meet, according to his family.
In his decades living in Chicago, he had worked in real estate, sold insurance and driven a cab, according to his family. He supported his two sons as they grew up and worked extra shifts so his wife could attend nursing school.
The suit was filed by Tungekar’s widow, Thara, and two sons, Omar and Rehman. It seeks $10,000,000 in damages.
For more information, contact:
Michael Gallagher 312 580 2040 or John Gorman 312 315 2662
(At 10:38 of the video, Mr. Tungekar pulls up to the light. At 11:20, he is kicked as he walks back to his taxi. At 14:34, the Good Samaritan tries to block Fangqi from fleeing the scene.)
Uber suit links