Lawsuits

Lawsuit Against Uber in Name of Michigan Murder Suspect Is Found to Be a Hoax

Lawsuit Against Uber in Name of Michigan Murder Suspect Is Found to Be a Hoax

Jason Dalton

Image credit: Reuters | Kalamazoo County Court | Handout via Reuters
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This story was updated on March 17 at 3:45 p.m.

A lawsuit filed against Uber claiming that the ride-sharing company was to blame for the jailing of an Uber driver who is charged with murder is a hoax, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office said on Thursday.

The Sheriff's Office said officials became suspicious of the suit, filed in the name of murder suspect Jason Dalton, who is currently jailed in Kalamazoo County, Mich., after seeing the online filing. The online filing included a facsimile of the envelope used to send the suit, which had a Philadelphia, Penn., postmark.

"Our mail does not go Philadelphia. That raised a lot of suspicion right there," Pali Matyas, an undersheriff, said in an interview.

The envelope in court documents was not a jail envelope, the postage did not match what the county jail uses and the hand-written court filing did not match handwriting the office had on file of Dalton, Matyas said.

Deputies spoke with Dalton on Thursday in jail.

"He said that he didn’t send it, and didn’t authorize it and he didn’t know who did," Matyas said, adding that Dalton's attorney also had no knowledge of the lawsuit.

"All of that translates into a hoax," he said.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, where the lawsuit was filed, was informed by the sheriff's office that it found the suit to be a hoax. If the lawsuit is proven to be fraudulent, it may take some time to remove the hand-written filing from the court's online records system, court spokesman Rod Hansen said.

The online court records shows the filing on Tuesday of a two-page, handwritten lawsuit against Uber by a person claiming to be Dalton and saying, "I'm in prison because of Uber."

Dalton is charged with shooting eight people, killing six of them, over a five-hour period on Feb. 20 in between driving customers for the Uber car service in Kalamazoo, which is about 150 miles west of Detroit. Police said last month that Dalton admitted to the shootings.

He faces 16 charges, including six of murder that can bring life in prison.

Uber officials were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler)

Original story follows:

The Uber driver in Michigan charged with murdering six people last month in a shooting spree has filed a $10 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the ride-sharing company, saying that it is Uber's fault he is in prison, court records show.

Jason Dalton, 45, filed the two-page, handwritten lawsuit against Uber in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Tuesday, saying the company ruined his life and never invited him to any "corporate parties."

"Uber doesn't care about its drivers. We are peasants and pawn pieces to Uber's bottom line," Dalton wrote, adding that the company discriminates against him because of his mental health. "I'm currently in prison because of Uber."

Dalton wrote that he is seeking a jury trial and would represent himself in court.

Dalton is charged with shooting eight people, killing six of them, over a five-hour period on Feb. 20 in between driving customers for the Uber car service in Kalamazoo, which is about 150 miles west of Detroit. Police said last month that Dalton admitted to the shootings.

"It's hard to know how to respond to someone who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions," Uber said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the victims' families who have to live with the consequences of his terrible crimes."

Dalton told investigators that the Uber ride-sharing app had the ability to "take over" his body, local media outlets reported on Monday.

Dalton told police that when he would press a button on his phone screen, the horned cow head of a devil would appear and give him an assignment that he said would "literally take over" his body, local television station WZZM reported.

He faces 16 charges, including six of murder that can bring life in prison.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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