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Blue Top Cab Sued for Woman’s Sexual Assault

by ARLnow.com November 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm 8,624 99 Comments

A young woman is suing Arlington Blue Top Cab, claiming she was sexually assaulted after a cabbie dropped her off in a dangerous neighborhood at 3:30 a.m. because she was $1.95 short on the fare.

According to the lawsuit, first reported by Courthouse News Service, the woman was taking a Blue Top taxi from Arlington to Alexandria early on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008. When the cab arrived at her house in Alexandria, the woman says she tried to pay with a credit card.

The cabbie ran the card twice and each time said the card was rejected, when in fact the payment went through, according to the lawsuit. When the woman only had $18 in cash for the $19.95 fare, the driver is alleged to have insisted upon driving her to an ATM.

The ATM, located in a high-crime section of Alexandria, was out of service, the lawsuit claims. After the woman got back in the cab and told the driver about the out of service ATM, he is alleged to have pulled over, taken the $18 she had in her possession, and — despite pleas for her safety — forced the young woman out of the cab.

“Immediately after being ejected by [the driver] from the Blue Top taxi cab, while attempting to walk to a safe location, [the plaintiff] was approached on the sidewalk by a man who indicated he had a gun,” the lawsuit says. “The man threatened to shoot [the plaintiff], then dragged her into a nearby parking garage, where he brutally sexually assaulted her.”

The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 12 in Alexandria Circuit Court, seeks $5 million in damages from Blue Top Cab and the driver for negligence, fraud, breach of contract, false imprisonment and the infliction of emotional distress.

A call to Blue Top Cab management has not been returned.

  • Greg

    Better settle that one. Yikes. That’s awful…

  • Sally

    Where is the high-crime section of Alexandria?

    • KalashniKEV

      Van dorn, 4 mi Run, Old Town…

    • LP

      Everywhere.

    • McGruff

      That all depends, Alexandria is a full service pest-hole with all 31 flavors of guttersnipe. What are you in the market for – robberies, assault & battery, gang-banging, GTA…? Ask a cop in Alexandria about “The Hole.”

  • Scott

    yeah- what Sally said

  • Brad

    The ‘Burg, parts of Del Ray, the Uptown projects, the projects near the Braddock St. metro, S. Whiting Street near Landmark, parts of Arlandria, some of the parks…. that about covers it. Basically the areas close to affordable/public housing. And yes, they can be very dangerous at night.

    • DT

      The areas in north Old Town are some of the worst in Northern Va.

      • Katie

        Indeed, in the entire metropolitan area.

      • Lou

        Yeah, just south of the McD’s on Route 1 after it crosses the tracks is the beginning of several blocks of bad news.

  • KB

    There are no sexual assaults reported that weekend according to the Alexandria Police Crime database.

  • el fat kid

    that is awful.

  • Lou

    Reading the headline I thought maybe it was the driver who tried to kiss the drunk girl as she got out of his cab.

    Terrible story. I wonder about the employee status with a lot of cab drivers. Some are independent contractors or something similar. Will Blue Top be able to push most of the burden on the driver if that is the case?

  • KR

    what a nightmare!

  • Katie

    Awful!

    I was in one of their cabs two nights ago and the driver was creepy. So I had him drop me off a few blocks from home, in a well-lit area with people around. He tried to argue with me about it (!) and I had to ask him three times to unlock the door.

    I’ve never had any problems with Red Top and EnviroCab drivers.

  • Katie

    I’m really surprised anyone is questioning whether there are unsafe neighborhoods in Alexandria. Hello, have you ever driven down Route 1?

  • Catalina

    This is super scary. Sorry to hear about it but good story to be cautious about.

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    The way I understand it, a cabbie is often like a contract driver for the company. The one cabbie I knew had to rent the car, and fill the car with gas, clean it as needed, etc before handing it off to another driver at the end of their shift. Not sure if this is the standard.

    This is a terrible story. It is also illustrates why, in general, I dislike cabbies.

    • R. Deni

      Ditto. There seems to be a high proportion of lowlifes in that ‘profession’. And don’t get me started on the way they drive…

      • Sam

        Or the way they smell. Jesus, how much can one sweat while staying seated in an air conditioned vehicle?

  • YTK

    Some of those cab drivers are creepy. Red Top is IMHO a better organization. EnviroCab…… I dunno — I had one EnviroCab driver who was speeding, switching lanes and cursing at the other drivers.

    • rft

      red top is my go to cab company

      • Noted

        +1 Always use Redtop for trips to Dulles Airport and never had a problem. Reliable drivers-Also they are an Arlington business.

  • Mac

    I wish this surprised me. They always claim their credit card machines (which many do have) are not working or refuse cards altogether because it is a hassle. They have actually made client of ours walk several blocks in unfamiliar areas because they won’t take a low fare. I have refused to use them for years. I agree with some of the others — Red Top or EnviroCab.

  • Bluemont John

    I hope she gets triple that amount. Unbelievable. They should throw that cabbie in jail.

    Red Top is great. I used to use them all the time for work. You can reserve a cab on the phone and tell them you’ll be using a credit card. I had a minor complaint once, and the manager took it VERY seriously.

  • BLW

    Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but 1) Instead of being a jerk he should have taken her to another ATM which would only increase the fare anyway b/c of the additional distance, and 2) instead of getting out in an unsafe neighborhood she should have demanded that he either drive her to another ATM in a safe area or she would call the police to come and resolve the dispute.

    • Sam

      Agreed. The passenger and the carrier have a contract of carriage. Their cabs have stickers saying that they accept credit cards. If the machine is malfunctioning, then it should have been reported to the passenger before they departed so she could have an option of seeking an alternate taxi. Even without the alleged assault, this woman should not be forced to incur a higher fee (for driving her to another ATM) or ATM fees when the cab advertised that it had credit processing equipment available. When this happens, call the police and have them resolve the dispute.

    • female

      Alot of those cabdrivers come from cultures that have no respect for women.

      • Maria

        Maybe it would be better not to generalize about an entire culture and consider the possibility that maybe that one guy was just a huge loser who doesn’t have common sense or courtesy?

        • rft

          you’re right, the middle-east, eastern europe, and southeast asia are all bastions of feminism

          • Maria

            I didn’t say they were, as a whole. But still. There are plenty of jerks who grew up in America that would do the same thing, so it isn’t necessarily about what culture he is from (assuming he’s even foreign).

          • kumar

            from where u get this about southeast asia,from where u came?

      • Ms

        I call troll

  • cindel

    Excuse me? I live in North Old Town and I never had a problem walking alone at night. (i’m female) Those trashing old town didnt get the memo: “the projects” is being torn down for you hipster white folks. New townhomes are being build around the area.

    • Black Flag

      Some of the people on here, are that scared or nervous all the time? You are trying to make North Alex, looking like SE DC, in the mid 80’s!

    • mehoo

      Right, because you’re experience is everyone’s. You’re the center of the universe.

  • Brandon C

    NOT blaming the victim, but credit cards are a new thing with most taxis in this area. It’s much smarter to always have an extra $20 stowed away in a different compartment of your wallet for just such an occasion.

    That being said, f**k this cabbie. So many of them have escaped the poverty of 3rd world cesspools (which is great!), but when they come here, they refuse to adopt an “American” standard of conducting themselves like decent human beings or even professionally for that matter.

    • Maria

      I wish I could agree that conducting oneself like a decent human being could be considered an “American standard”… a lot of Americans refuse to adopt that mind-set as well. Also, for the record, I’ve had a ton of really nice, funny, foreign cab drivers in this area (can’t actually think of a time I had a creepy or jerky one), so you’re making a pretty sweeping, unpleasant generalization, which is not a very decent thing to do.

      • MB

        Thank you, Maria.

      • Brandon C

        Personal experiences vary which is why I said, “So many of them,” not “all of them.”

        And even then, there are always exceptions.

        I have a lot of cabbies that live in my building. They’re nice enough when I see them around, but I have no idea how they act towards their customers. And yes, I do believe of a certain “American” standard of how one treats a customer. It’s RARE that I’ve ever been yelled at, called a thief, or been put into mortal danger by anyone who wasn’t a cabbie. Many tend to disregard social conventions and treat the customer as a hostile. I got yelled at by a cabbie while in Dallas on business because he quoted me a price when I told him the destination, but when it turned out to be farther than he thought, he asked for more. I told him he quoted me a price and didn’t even turn the meter on and then had the audacity to ask for more? He then called me a thief, assaulted me, took the money out of my hands and sped off. I reported him to his company and even considered calling the police when I realized it wouldn’t be worth it in the end.

        DC and Arlington cabbies aren’t much different and my experiences with the vast majority of them have been similarly antagonistic. You might think, “We’ll, if you’re being an asshole, they’ll be an asshole back. I don’t consider myself to be a difficult customer, but when a driver is aggressive on the road, and is talking on their cellphone the entire time, not to mention abrasive and rude to me, I feel like as a customer that I shouldn’t have to tolerate it.

        Sorry if this is lengthy, but many (though not all) of my own experiences haven’t been positive with cabbies.

        • Maria

          I agree that, with the examples you gave, the drivers were a-holes. Totally. I’m just saying that you can’t generalize about an entire community of people based on the actions of a few. You may think it’s not a few because in your experience, it has apparently been a lot. But like I said, in my experience, I can’t think of a time that I’ve had a jerk for a cab driver in any city I’ve been in, so our experiences and perspectives are different. My point is that in every profession, there are wonderful people, mediocre people, and terrible people, and to say something so generalized and negative about a whole group is, I think, not the right thing to do.

          However, I’ve never had to deal with a weirdo employee at the DMV either, so maybe I’m just lucky?? 🙂

          • Maria

            *and yes, I realize you said “so many of them” and not “all of them,” but my point stays the same.

      • McGruff

        RE: Maria

        God, all these Cab Driver stories make me miss my old friend from Rwanda. He drove for Red Top in Fairfax and would often frequent my neighborhood Starbucks. He was always smiling, always pleasant, funny and full of conversation…

        A couple of years ago he was picked up by interpol for genocide.

        • Maria

          Sheesh. You never can tell what history lies beneath peoples’ exteriors, eh?

          • Katie

            Yea well, someone in Rwanda wants to punish someone they’re ticked off at–they say they committed genocide. It’s that easy.

  • jan

    I have used Red Top for 40 years Great company!

    • Yes. Definitely Red Top is tops.

  • Kalashnikev

    I was thinking about this story on the drive home, and also the recent Crime Report posted below on the site.

    What everyone seems to be fixed on is the “High Crime Area” which can be a matter of opinion. I think most of DC is a cesspool. A whole lot of the crime in Arlington last week also seems to have been caused by the recent Bum invasion (Glebe, G-Mason, Wilson, probably half the rest).

    I don’t think the cabbie should be expected to drive this girl around all night because she has no cash… for all he knows she might have had $18 to her name. I do think the company is responsible for the conduct of it’s employees, but I also think it sucks.

    You guys are painting the cabbie to be some kind of khat chewing, 3rd world Savage, radical Islamic, Rape-Stork… I’ll bet he feels terrible for the victim and wishes he acted differently…

    • Kalashnikev

      I didn’t finish that thought (stupid small box!) this could have just as easily happened in the middle of Courthouse in the alley between Cosi and the Metro… Crime strikes anywhere and everywhere… that’s why we never expect it!

      • Carmen

        While it is true that crime can strike anywhere, it is not just as likely to happen in the space that is not an alley between Cosi and the Courthouse Metro.

    • Katie

      No, I really doubt that. He was in a snit, clearly, and for whatever reason took it out on her. Even if you assume that she was tired and drunk and short-tempered, there’s no excuse in hell for what he did to her–which was to lead her to hell–yup, hell. No one, male or female, recovers from a sexual assault.

      How a cabbie should behave: I arrived at Pentagon City too late for the buses and started to walk to Columbia Pike. I was getting beeped at by icky men. Good grief. I held out my hand for a cab. A DC cabbie from Ethiopia pulled over and said “what are you doing!” I said “I expected to take a bus, I have just $7” and he said “oh who cares, please get in. It’s not safe to walk this route.” And I mean, everything about this man was just–nice. He refused to let me pay him when we got to Walter Reed. Great person.

      • Kalashnikev

        Did you give up the digits?

        • Katie

          He wasn’t a perv. He was thinking how he’d like his his relatives and friends treated.

          • Kalashnikev

            You missed the lesson though- don’t go around in the world doing crazy things and when someone swoops in to save you, you’re appreciative. It’s not a charming story about a good hearted immigrant- It’s more like taking the keys away from a drunk driver. Be aware. Certain things you just don’t do.

    • Greg

      “I’ll bet he feels terrible for the victim and wishes he acted differently.” Yeah, a $5MM lawsuit will do that to you…

      • Kalashnikev

        Whatevs… all they’re going to get out of him is a beaded seat cover and a dusty Koran- Blue Top is going to feel it, and there’s really nothing they could do to prevent it- other than coming up with a deadbeat policy that involves driving them to location after location in the hopes of eventually being paid a fare…

  • Katie

    Because of this story, I chose not to employ a BlueTop cab tonight at Rosslyn, who was at the head of the queue. The 2nd cab was Enviro, and I explained to him that I’d prefer not to give money to Blue Top. He said–OK, let me talk to him, make sure he’s not ticked off. So I said–please explain that it’s not him, just a statement against BlueTop.

    No problem, and he asked me about the story, and we had a good chat about women’s personal safety.

    I feel that most cabbies around here are great people–but I totally see the awful original scenario happening. I wish that men, in general, had half an inkling of the danger that women face all the time.

    • Kalashnikev

      That’s a pretty dramatic way of putting it, but I agree with you.

      It’s too bad she wasn’t armed, this could have been a good news story if she shot the scumbag right in the face a couple times.

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  • George

    How can anyone be responsible for what happens to A person once they leave there car. This happen two years ago. Why wait so long? I hope she has Police report or Hospital report to back it up. What happens if you leave A friend at A club and something happens are you responsible? What if she got out in front of her Building and it happen there, would the driver still be responsible. Sometimes you must take responsibility for your own actions. She should have never got out of the cab where she was.

    • G

      Didn’t you read the article? The driver forced her out of the car even though she begged to be taken back home. This is after she had already paid twice and would have been leaving the guy an $18 tip with the available cash she had. Also, no, the driver wouldn’t have been responsible if he had dropped her off where she had asked! And I’m curious, what actions should she be responsible for? Not predicting that the credit card reader “wasn’t working”? Or not calculating the exact fare in advance within a $1.50 of the price? Why wait so long? The girl was brutally raped… who knows how long it took her to feel comfortable to seek justice for what had happened to her.

      • george

        I didn’t read the part where he grabbed her and forced her out of the cab. Whats the worst the driver could have done if she didn’t get out,call the police to get her out. People say things all the time that aren’t true. And you know people file Lawsuits all the time that are unjust. I’m so glad we do have A Justice system because most people here have already found the Driver guilty.

    • Katie

      What’s with the random capitalization?

  • Anthony

    How about this…..why didn’t the driver take the $18.00 the lady tried to give him, and be done with it. I didn’t see anybody say anything about that!!!! I mean, he’s getting $18.00, out of a $19.00 fare, come on man. Is $1.95 that serious!!!

    • Glebe Roader

      Duh.

    • G

      I agree… it prob cost more than $1.95 just to drive her to the bank.

  • Bluemont John

    About 10 or 12 years ago, I took a cab in Dallas only to discover my card had expired. The cabbie–who was Ethiopian and super nice–we had an interesting chat about his native country–let me pay with a personal check.

  • Red Top

    red Top is seriously the best cab company- that is the only one I ever call. Go red Top.

    • dave

      Yea you call Red Top until its raining or snowing then you call Blue Top to get A Cab

  • bill

    Blue Top by far gets to an address faster then Red Top. I have been riding Blue Top for 15 years and have never had A problem.

    • Katie

      I agree–Red Top sometimes doesn’t show up. But when they do, they’re professional, kind, and courteous.

  • JohnBoy

    I don’t like Red Top very much. After drinking in the Clarendon bars last year, and bringing home a girl I met, the cabbie yelled at us when we tried to get busy in the back seat. I thought it was very rude!

    • RestonRunner86

      You can get busy in the backseat of my Mazda provided I can watch (or participate!) 😉

      • Katie

        Ewwwwwwww…and aren’t you the one who said he has to pay for it? No bloody wonder.

        • JohnBoy

          @Katie – stop always being such a prude; and @ RoadRunner86 – stop being such a perv – besides, I’m straight.

  • Jill

    I have been riding with blue top cab for 7 years now after red top never showed up for a time call i had with them to take me to the airport. I called blue top after my red top was over 30 minutes late. Blue top showed up within 10 minutes and I was able to make my flight. I have used them ever since and never had a problem

    • Lou

      Yeah, I don’t get all the corporate bashing going on here. I’ve rode cabs in Arlington for years and have never had problems with any company as a whole.

      • JIM

        Finally some sensible words from somebody

  • Jim

    You do know that the owners or red top own blue top and the yellow cab company. So yes red top may seem better but they are all the same company.

    • JIM

      Red Top owns Yellow Top but Blue Top is owned by someone different.

  • Golden Silence

    This was linked in Hollaback DC’s Twitter feed. They’re right—we really need Right Rides in DC.

  • Rachel

    To be honest, I totally disagree with the cab driver’s actions. Irresponsible and cheap would be 2 good words to call them, but on the other hand it is always smart to have cash with you just in case of emergencies when riding in a cab, can’t always depend on credit cards.
    Now on another note, I feel this woman’s pain, me myself knowing a few women who have experienced sexual assault. But, it still bothers me a bit the fact that there is the similar situation of a friend leaving you somewhere sketchy while maybe partying or just hanging out. Do you sue your friend for doing so if you were raped? Most people would say no. It isn’t the cabbie’s job to watch out for their customer, no where does it state they are responsible for what happens when the customer leaves the car. We also all forget to mention that some drivers are independent owners.
    All in all this whole situation is sticky, and no, I’m really not trying to take sides I’m just trying to look at some simple logic going on here. I feel so sorry for this woman and all shes been through but I don’t think winning this lawsuit will help any of her emotional distress permanently. This is only my opinion of course though. (Also all this company bashing… unnecessary?)
    -Thank you, Rachel T.

  • kate

    This happen in the 300 block of N Washington st in Old Town. Is the driver really guilty of leaving her in a high crime area.

  • Anon

    First, someone isn’t “guilty” when they are sued–they are held liable. The cabbie isn’t being charged criminally. Second, she is suing for breach of contract and negligence. All this discussion about friends being responsible for other friends at a party is ridiculous–she’s suing because the driver had a contractual obligation to bring here where they contracted to go. Note: friends don’t have this same duty just because they are hanging out with friends.

    Just because the circumstances surrounding the contract changed–mainly that she couldn’t pay by credit card–doesn’t mean he could necessarily break his contract and drop her off wherever he pleased. He likely shouldn’t have even been able to collect the $18 since by not dropping her off at the requested location, he already breached the contract.

    Lastly, if you start a sentence with “I’m not blaming the victim BUT…” you might as well be honest with yourself: you’re blaming the victim. If she’d been mugged, would you think of it any differently? This girl deserves zero blame for what happened to her. Period.

    • Katie

      Very well-put.

    • kim

      Not paying is also a breach of contract

      • Anon

        In case you missed this part, she actually paid by CC (twice); the cabbie just didn’t realize it.

        • Katie

          “When the woman only had $18 in cash for the $19.95 fare, the driver is alleged to have insisted upon driving her to an ATM.”

          And this. The vast majority of cabbies who have said “that’s fine” and taken the $18. And driven her home.

  • Katie

    “A immature lady is suing Arlington Blue Top Cab , claiming she was intimately assaulted after the cabbie forsaken her off in the dangerous area during 3:30 am.”

    Hm, I’m hoping that this is just a really bad Babelfish translation.

  • ANON…
    What the hell are you talking about… contract?? Are you an attorney or pretending to be one??
    “”because the driver had a contractual obligation to bring here where they contracted to go”.
    “Just because the circumstances surrounding the contract changed–mainly that she couldn’t pay by credit card–doesn’t mean he could necessarily break his contract and drop her off wherever he pleased”.

  • JohnBoy: Comment November 19, 2010 at 9:23 am
    You are a fucking IDIOT . . . you stupid motherfucker. I would have thrown your and that bitches ass out right away …

    • el fat kid

      wow. let’s hope this is on the tail end of an all-night drinking/coke binge and not your normal wake the kids up and go to church mood.

  • R. Deni:
    November 18, 2010 at 4:53 pm
    Ditto. There seems to be a high proportion of lowlifes in that ‘profession’. And don’t get me started on the way they drive…

    DENI… I have two simple words for you FUCK YOU…

    • el fat kid

      do you need to talk? perhaps i’ll make some hot cocoa and you can let it all out.

  • Sam:
    November 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm
    Or the way they smell. Jesus, how much can one sweat while staying seated in an air conditioned vehicle?

    SAM, Your crap talk shows how low of a person you are. You are worse than the worst driver so FUCK YOU TOO.

    • el fat kid

      i see mass deletion in your future.

      • el fat kid

        scott, please delete my responses as well if/when you delete all these… thank you.

  • Hey Fat Kid are you referring to my comments? What are you exactly trying to say if you’r talking to me???

  • el gordito

    yousa knut.

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