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Uber assault case results in $8.2 million judgment

A Jackson County judge has ordered an Uber driver to pay $8.2 million to a woman who sued him for sexually assaulting her in 2017.

According to court records, in December 2018, Judge Charles McKenzie entered a judgment on the merits on liability for the woman, identified as Jane Doe, after the driver, Yahkhahnahn Ammi, failed to fully respond to the suit and appear for court hearings.

On June 10, McKenzie held a bench trial on damages. Four days later, he entered a judgment awarding Doe more than $7.2 million in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

In 2017, Doe sued Ammi in Jackson County Circuit Court for assault and battery. Doe also sued Uber, but Uber was released as a party in February, prior to the bench hearing.

Doe was represented by Austin Moore of Stueve Siegel Hanson in Kansas City. He declined to comment on the ruling.

Doe, a postgraduate student in Kansas City, alleged Ammi sexually assaulted her in January 2017. Her suit outlines an evening in which she initially was paired with him after she used the ride-sharing app to arrange transportation to the Power & Light district for an event affiliated with her school program.

He suggested they coordinate additional rides that evening, she alleged.

At about 1:40 a.m., Doe was “obviously intoxicated” and had a difficult time finding his vehicle, according to the lawsuit. He dropped her off at her apartment, then called her multiple times. Once she answered, he said he needed to use the restroom.

After she let him into the building and her apartment, she alleged he refused to leave and raped her. She said the incident caused her to experience severe emotional distress and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and she struggled to complete her post-graduate program.

She alleged Uber allowed Ammi to drive even after he served a prison term in Illinois for felony attempted first-degree murder with intent to kill.

Doe also alleged in her suit that, about a month prior to the incident, a victim who accused Ammi of domestic assault — unrelated to his work as an Uber driver — notified Uber of that incident in St. Louis. Uber officials allegedly spoke to the St. Louis victim and said it had launched an internal investigation.

According to court filings, Ammi was charged in February 2017 for a domestic assault, which took place Dec. 25, 2016, the same date listed in Doe’s lawsuit. Court records show Ammi was convicted in January 2018 for third-degree domestic assault. He received a suspended imposition of sentence and is on probation.

Doe alleged that the company failed to take any steps to protect the plaintiff from Ammi, and that Ammi continued to drive for the company.

Doe’s lawsuit also included claims for negligence, fraudulent concealment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ammi filed a motion to set aside the judgment after McKenzie’s ruling, but McKenzie denied the motion.

Philip H. Dennis represented Ammi. He did not respond to a message seeking comment.

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Assault/battery

Breakdown: $7,205,350 in actual damages, $1 million in punitive damages

Venue: Jackson County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 1716-CV12741/June 14, 2019

Judge: Charles McKenzie

Caption: Jane Doe v. Yahkhahnahn Ammi

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Steve Six and Austin Moore, Stueve Siegel Hanson, Kansas City

Defendant’s Attorney: Philip Dennis, St. Louis