Uber driver reportedly strands woman in labor, charges her $13

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2016 @ 6:34 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2016 @ 6:34 PM

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David Lee acted fast when his wife was in labor.

He grabbed her overnight bag, called their birthing coach, and called an Uber to take them from their Manhattan apartment to the hospital.

But when his wife, who did not want to be named, vomited on the sidewalk before entering the Uber, the driver refused to take him to the hospital.

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Lee told Fortune.com that he and his wife’s birthing coach promised the driver his wife wouldn’t get sick again. If she did, they would pay for any cleaning fees.

But the driver still refused, saying he would lose $1,000 a day if Lee’s wife got sick in the car and he had to wait for it to be cleaned.

Lee said the driver told them no other Uber drivers would take a woman in labor as a passenger.

The driver then drove off and charged Lee and his wife $13 for the time he lost while speaking to them.

“I don’t blame Uber for one driver’s poor actions, since bad apples can appear in any organization, but I do think that when a company has a culture of bullying their way past laws and regulations, as Uber seems to do, they begin to think they can act with impunity in anything,” Lee said.

Ultimately, Lee, a lawyer, complained to Uber and was refunded the $13. His wife made it safely to the hospital in another Uber and gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

“Uber should have clarified their policies on drivers and women in labor, and confirmed that the driver received appropriate disciplinary action,” Lee said. “I’m fortunate enough to know my rights and have access to resources, but I feel for the person who is not as lucky.”

Emily Martin of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., said it is illegal for New York drivers to refuse service to women in labor.

“Uber drivers are bound by the same public accommodation laws that prohibit New York City taxi drivers and car services from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy when deciding who they will pick up,” she said. “Those laws are a good thing, as they help ensure that not many babies end up being born on New York City sidewalks.”

In a statement, Uber said, “Denying service to a passenger in labor is unacceptable. It goes against our code of conduct and the standard of service our riders rely on. We extend our deepest apologies to both riders and have taken action to respond to this complaint. We are glad that the rider’s next driver was professional and courteous.”

Alabama executes man for 1982 murder

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 2:15 AM

Tommy Arthur was executed by lethal injection Thursday night.
Alabama Department of Corrections

Tommy Arthur, who escaped seven previous execution dates, was put to death by lethal injection for his conviction in a 1982 murder-for-hire, AL.com reported.

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Alabama correctional officials said the 75-year-old inmate was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. Friday. The execution began about 11:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the death warrant was to expire, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said. 

Arthur was convicted in the fatal shooting of Troy Wicker as Wicker slept in his Muscle Shoals home, according to court documents. Wicker’s wife initially blamed an intruder, but later testified she promised Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband, The Associated Press reported.

Arthur was nicknamed the “Houdini” of death row because he had eluded execution seven times. He was executed at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

The inmate gave a thumbs up gesture with his left hand to his daughter, Sherrie. who was in the witness room, AL.com reported.

In a statement before the execution, Arthur read out the names of his children. "I'm sorry I failed you as a father. I love you more than anything on earth," he said, his voice cracking.

The execution was to have begun at 6 p.m. but was delayed by appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the execution had not begun by midnight, the state would have had to seek another execution date, AL.com reported.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he hoped Wicker’s family can begin to recover.

"Thirty-four years after he was first sentenced to death for the murder of a Colbert County man, Thomas Arthur's protracted attempt to escape justice is finally at an end,” Marshall said. “Most importantly, tonight, the family of Troy Wicker can begin the long-delayed process of recovery from a painful loss." 

Greg Gianforte wins special election in Montana

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 1:48 AM

Greg Gianforte was the winner in Thursday's congressional election in Montana.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana's open U.S. House seat Thursday night and apologized to the reporter who accused the Republican of “body-slamming” him, CNN reported.

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With 84 percent of precincts reporting, Gianforte had earned 50.8 percent of the vote to lead Democrat Rob Quist, who polled 43.8 percent, CNN reported, citing Edison Research.

In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who made the accusation after an altercation on Wednesday. The Gallatin County Sheriff's office later charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault, CNN reported.

"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told his supporters at his election night rally in Bozeman. "That's the Montana way."

Saying he was "not proud" of his behavior, he added, "I should not have responded the way I did. For that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

Members of the supportive crowd shouted, "You're forgiven."

Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, was considered the favorite heading into Thursday’s election to fill the seat once held by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but his scuffle with Jacobs raised questions about the outcome.

Democrats had hoped Quist, a Montana folk singer and first-time candidate, could have capitalized on a wave of activism following President Donald Trump's election.

JFK’s daughter, grandchildren pay tribute in video

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 1:06 AM

Caroline Kennedy gets a piggy-back ride from her father in this Nov. 9, 1960, file photo.
Associated Press

The centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birthday is Monday, and in an early Memorial Day tribute, his daughter and grandchildren reflected on the life of the 35th president and the impact he had on their lives. 

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At the start of a video created by the JFK Library, Caroline Kennedy said she has thought about her father “and missed him every day of my life,” Today reported.

“Growing up without him was made easier by all the people who kept him in their hearts, who told me that he inspired them to work and fight and believe in a better world, to give something back to this country that has given so much to so many,” she said in the video.

Kennedy, 59, recalled hiding under father’s desk in the Oval Office, and spoke about the generation her father inspired, Today reported.

"As my father said in his inaugural address, 'This work will not be finished in our lifetime, it's up to us to continue to pass these values on to our children and grandchildren,'" she said.

In the video, Tatiana Kennedy Schlossberg spoke of her connection to her grandfather, then described her unique connection to one of the nation's most historical figures.

"One of the defining relationships of my life is with someone I've never met, my grandfather, President John F. Kennedy," she said.

“To me, that is where he lives, as a historical figure rooted in the past, but also as a person connected to so much of what came after him,” she said in the video. “But while my grandfather had reverence for the past, and the lessons it could impart, he also knew that America was a country where change was possible. That we aren't bound solely by tradition if we understand the past with which we are breaking."

Tatiana's sister, Rose Schlossberg, also described the need to reflect upon the past to help shape the future.

"My grandfather would be proud of how far we’ve come as a nation since 1963, but he’d have been the first to tell us that we have a long way to go,” she said.

The president's only grandson, Jack Schlossberg, said his favorite speech by John F. Kennedy was about sending a man to the moon, "not because it would be easy, but because it would be so hard."

Senate Republicans head home still searching for health care deal

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 12:29 AM
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 12:30 AM

As lawmakers trooped out of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday and headed home until early June, Senate Republicans told reporters they were making progress, but were still nowhere near finalizing a deal on a major overhaul of the Obama health law.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as top Republicans tried to project a feeling that the GOP is making some headway in making changes to a bill approved in the House earlier this month.

“I believe Senators across the ideological spectrum are proceeding in good faith,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“Leader McConnell is doing a great job right now, focusing on the priorities that we’ve all agreed to, that are broken under Obamacare,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who said he thought there would be legislative language put together in the near future by GOP Senators.

But one thing no one was talking about on the GOP side, was when a health care bill might get to the Senate floor for an actual debate, and vote.

“We’re a long ways from that,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND), “but you’ve got to start with something to begin with. And that’s what this is all about.”

But the schedule is already squeezing Republicans, as there are four work weeks in June, plus three in July – then Congress is scheduled to leave for a five week summer break that lasts until Labor Day.

Not only are there few work days, but Republicans still have to get the House bill past the scrutiny of the Senate Parliamentarian, and then make sure any changes also pass muster with strict Senate rules governing budget reconciliation, which prevents a bill from being subject to a 60 vote filibuster.

One item from the House bill that could be in trouble in the Senate, is the idea of allowing states to opt out of certain requirements from the Obama health law, like the list of “Essential Health Benefits” that must be covered by insurance.

How Republicans might broker some of the differences wasn’t clear as members headed for the airport, though individual Senators are clearly looking for a breakthrough.

“Can you talk to me in two weeks? We’re working on something,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told reporters, refusing to give any hints of what he is trying to cobble together on coverage.

“No, cause I don’t know if it works. I’m running it by actuaries, I’m running it by people who really know their stuff,” Cassidy added.

And that’s where Republicans are right now – still searching for a deal, while the clock keeps ticking.