Authorities: Uber lawsuit not from Kalamazoo suspect

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Authorities in Kalamazoo say an Uber driver charged with killing six people in Kalamazoo did not file a lawsuit against the online transportation company for $10 million.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas said Thursday suspect Jason Brian Dalton denied filing the lawsuit in U.S District Court during an interview inside the county jail early Thursday morning.

Before speaking to Dalton, Matyas compared Dalton’s handwritten statement against the handwriting in the lawsuit and the two did not match, he said.

Matyas said his first clue that the lawsuit was a hoax were the Philadelphia, PA, postmark on the envelope and the fact that the envelope did not resemble the kind used by prisoners in the county jail.

“I got suspicious last night when I saw the news. I looked at the filing online, and I noticed the envelope was postmarked Philadelphia, PA. Our mail doesn’t go that way,” Matyas said.

“We pulled him and asked him. He said he did not file any lawsuit, he did not authorize anyone to file one for him.”

Matyas said he contacted the FBI in Kalamazoo County to inform them of the phony filing. Matyas was not sure what if any laws were broken by the person who filed the lawsuit.

Jill Washburn, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Detroit office, said this lawsuit “is a civil issue, not a criminal issue, so it really does not involve the FBI.”

Detroit federal court spokesman Rod Hansen said the filing went through the typical steps: It was processed by the clerk’s office and assigned both a magistrate judge and judge. Hansen said such letters from jail or prison inmates are common.

As far as what happens next in the case, Hansen said the the normal course of action is for the court to contact the plaintiff by mail regarding a filing fee.

If there is no response or if the person claims he or she didn’t file the case, it could be dismissed, Hansen said.

Or, if the police file an affidavit with the judge indicating the complaint was a fake, it could be dismissed, he said.

“This is just one of those unusual situations,” Hansen said.

The lawsuit consists of a handwritten two-page complaint asking for damages against Uber. The author used Dalton’s name and alleges the company “ripped him off” by never paying back wages or overtime.

“I busted my butt for them,” the complaint says. “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.”

It blamed the company for Dalton being in prison and his wife filing for divorce against him.

“My life is ruined because of Uber,” read the filing stamped March 11.

Asked about Dalton’s reaction to the news that someone filed a civil rights lawsuit against Uber using his name, Matyas said Dalton had no emotional reaction.

“It’s same steady Eddie,” Matyas said.“The public is going to think he is nuts for doing this. We independently verified he didn’t do this...There is no way he did this.”

Of the person who filed the lawsuit, Matyas said: “You look at the motive of someone who pulls a hoax like this, and it’s someone with limited intelligence who thinks this is incredibly funny.”