Shooting suspect sues Uber for $10M for ruining life

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Editor's note: Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas has told The News that suspect Jason Brian Dalton has denied filing the lawsuit in U.S District Court during an interview inside the county jail early Thursday morning.

Authorities: Uber lawsuit not from Kalamazoo suspect

An Uber driver charged with killing six people in Kalamazoo has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for $10 million against the online transportation company, alleging it treated him poorly and ruined his life.

Jason Brian Dalton, 45, filed a hand-written two-page complaint on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Detroit asking for damages against Uber.

Dalton alleges the company “ripped him off” by never paying back wages or overtime.

He accused the company of having a hostile work environment and says it discriminated against “my mental health.”

“I busted my butt for them,” Dalton wrote. “I wasn’t invited to any corporate parties, they made me work when I was sick and didn’t let me spend time with my 2 children.”

Dalton complained he had to pay for his own gas and repairs for his Chevy Equinox after hitting potholes.

He also blamed the company for him being in prison and the divorce his wife filed against him.

“My life is ruined because of Uber,” he wrote in the filing that contained an envelope stamped March 11.

Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson issued a statement on Wednesday saying: “It’s hard to know how to respond to someone who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions. Our hearts go out to the victims' families who have to live with the consequences of his terrible crimes.”

Legal experts said they didn’t think the lawsuit would have much of an impact on Dalton’s pending criminal case.

But they said Dalton isn’t doing himself any favors by making public statements, apparently without the knowledge of his attorney. Dalton has an attorney but filed the lawsuit by himself.

“They say he who represents himself has a fool for a client,” said Aaron Herskovic, an attorney from Huntington Woods. “In this case, it appears he has a homicidal maniac for a client.”

Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder in the Kalamazoo-area shootings Feb. 20 outside an apartment complex, a restaurant and at a car lot over a five-hour period.

Earlier this week it was disclosed that Dalton told investigators he was being controlled by the ride-hailing app through his cellphone, police said in a report.

According to a police report, Dalton told authorities: “it feels like it is coming from the phone itself” and he didn’t know how to describe that.

He also described something “like an artificial presence,” the report said.

Dalton claims in the complaint he worked for Uber “for years,” but Uber security chief Joe Sullivan said last month that Dalton cleared a background check and was approved to be a driver on Jan. 25.

He had given slightly more than 100 rides and had a rating of 4.73 stars out of a possible five.

Until Feb. 20, Sullivan said, Uber had no reason to believe anything was amiss and that “no background check would have flagged and anticipated this situation.”

Killed in the attacks were Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda; Richard Smith, 53, and his son Tyler, 17, of Mattawan; and Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, all of Battle Creek.

The other two victims, Abigail Kopf, 14, and Tiana Carruthers, 25, survived.

Police said in their report that Dalton told investigators “he is not a killer and he knows that he has killed.”

Meanwhile, Dalton’s wife told investigators he warned her the night of the shootings that she wouldn’t be able to return to work and their children couldn’t go back to school — and she’d understand everything by watching TV news, police reports said.

Dalton later told police he doesn’t remember telling anyone to watch the news.

Police said in the report that Dalton told investigators “he is not a killer and he knows that he has killed.”

He did tell investigators, however, that he owned quite a few guns.

Dalton has been ordered to be examined at the state Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ann Arbor at an undetermined date.

Dalton’s attorney, Eusebio Solis, sought the exam during a preliminary examination conference earlier this month, saying Dalton doesn’t seem to understand the case against him.

Solis was not immediately available for comment.