FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Berkeley, CA, December 30, 2021— San Francisco attorney Mark Webb, Esq., who successfully got www.Match.com to remove sex offenders from their dating site, is now taking on the leading food delivery corporation in America to require safer driving practices. Webb calls for DoorDash to stop texting drivers without mounted cell phones and to implement more safety measures to limit distracted driving overall in a lawsuit filed against DoorDash in the Alameda County Superior Court last week. This comes after a fatal collision in Berkeley, where a DoorDash driver allegedly killed a female pedestrian in July in plain view of her two children. Webb filed a wrongful death lawsuit asking for injunctive relief, where the court would instruct DoorDash — a multibillion-dollar company and the leading delivery service in the U.S. — to improve its practices after this tragic collision occurred. Webb believes this is the first time an injunctive relief of this type has been sought against DoorDash. He also asks for punitive damages in his suit.
“DoorDash has thus far failed to implement technology that would prevent Dashers from illegally texting while driving,” Webb’s lawsuit states. “It turns a blind eye to the corners its drivers are statistically likely to cut in the name of profit.”
The accident occurred on July 26, where DoorDash driver Helen Dale was on her way to pick up a delivery. She allegedly hit 54-year-old Latitia Austin Ahmad on Ashby Avenue, fatally injuring her and Ahmad’s daughter, 25-year-old Delvonnia Cooper, who survived but sustained major injuries. In August, Webb filed a wrongful death case against Dale, on behalf of Cooper and her brother Sharif Ahmad. On Thursday, Webb updated the paperwork to file the lawsuit solely against DoorDash and Dale was dropped from the lawsuit due to a separate insurance settlement. In addition to injunctive relief, he has asked the court for punitive damages, which seek to penalize a defendant for outrageous conduct.
DoorDash, Webb wrote, has a “duty of care” to properly train its drivers about traffic safety, whether they are considered employees or contractors. According to court papers, DoorDash overlooked Dale’s history of moving violations and her out-of-state Oregon driver’s license, which she had failed to update despite having moved to California months earlier, approving her as a driver without a personal interview and without an inspection of her car. Webb included that DoorDash did not advise her to install a hands-free cellphone mount, even though DoorDash texted her regularly while she was driving. During the deposition, Dale stated that she was using her phone for navigation and she placed it next to the gearshift beside the driver seat. Dale did not see Ahmad until after she hit her, and video evidence of the collision shows Dale hitting Ahmad at full speed. The lawsuit states that her failure to stop or even slow down suggest that she had taken her eyes completely off the road.
“To the extent that Doordash purports to be the ‘last-mile infrastructure for local commerce,’ it owes a duty to make sure that its ‘infrastructure’… has reasonable safeguards that will discourage or prevent illegal cellphone use while driving,” said Webb.
Because DoorDash’s business model is “predicted on speed”, Webb cites that this is a major part of the problem. Webb states in the lawsuit that the DoorDash business model “will result in increased rates of motor vehicle accidents, including automobile-versus-pedestrian accidents,” due to incentives for drivers to “complete trips as quickly as possible.”
“It’s our position DoorDash is legally responsible for this accident,” Webb stated. “If they don’t revise their practice of texting drivers while driving with unmounted cellphones, there will be more accidents and tragedies.”
During deliveries, DoorDash texts its drivers and sends cellphone notifications through its app. Webb says the app makes it clear when drivers are moving, and that DoorDash should modify its practices accordingly.
A statement from DoorDash emphasized the importance of driver safety. Briana Megid, a company spokesperson stated, “We take Dasher safety extremely seriously, which is why we invest in products, policies, and partnerships that enable us to lead the industry while better serving all members of our community”. However, many of the safety tips are for keeping drivers safe from crime and there is a lack of driver requirements or guidance related to hands-free cellphone mounts accessible from DoorDash and its website.
Webb has asked the court for a jury trial and the case is scheduled for a hearing before a judge in February. Webb hopes that DoorDash, as a leader in its industry, takes this opportunity to bring major changes and implement the necessary safety measures needed to further prevent such collisions from happening again.
About Mark Webb, Esq.: Mark Webb, Esq. (www.MarkWebb.com) is a personal injury trial attorney and the leading partner at his private practice specializing in personal injury, business litigation, and elder abuse cases. After graduating from Harvard, Mark moved to San Francisco and began the study of law at Golden Gate University. He was then recruited by the United States Department of Justice to work in the criminal division (Organized Crime and Racketeering Section) in Washington D.C. He was then enlisted by the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, where he became their most prolific and successful federal prosecutor winning 15 consecutive jury trials including the first RICO trial ever presented to a jury in the district. After four years of government service, Mark established his own private law practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he applies the trial techniques he had developed as a federal prosecutor, allowing his private law practice to flourish. His practice focuses on civil litigation and trial work on behalf of injured persons.