Editor's Note: Police said Thursday an investigation into the filing revealed Dalton did not send or authorize the lawsuit. Michigan District Court said in a statement the lawsuit was entered, per procedure, before the prisoner and parties involved were contacted. Read more here.
A man charged with killing six people in a series of shootings in southwestern Michigan has filed a lawsuit against Uber seeking $10 million.
The civil suit was filed in Michigan’s Eastern District Court just days after police said Jason Dalton told investigators he was being controlled by the Uber app through his cellphone.
“I’m currently in prison because of Uber,” a handwritten letter with the suit signed by Dalton read. “Uber doesn’t care about its drivers, we are peasants and pawn pieces to Uber’s bottom line. Defendants manipulate all Uber drivers. My life is ruined because of Uber.”
The letter states Dalton is seeking $10 million in punitive damages and emotional distress, claiming the company fostered a "hostile work environment" and caused "psychological damage." It also claims he will seek a jury trial. Dalton's attorney, Eusebio Solis Jr., said in a statement he had no knowledge of the suit, adding that Dalton "acted on his own and not at my suggestion."
"It's hard to know how to respond to someone who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the victims' families who have to live with the consequences of his terrible crimes."
Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder in the Kalamazoo-area shootings that took place Feb. 20 outside an apartment complex, a restaurant and at a car lot. Two people survived.
Authorities have said Dalton carried out the shootings in between driving for Uber. According to the report released Monday, Dalton told authorities, "it feels like it is coming from the phone itself and he didn't know how to describe that."
According to police, Dalton said in the report "he is not a killer and he knows that he has killed."
Despite claims in the letter that Dalton worked for the ride-sharing company "for years," Uber has said Dalton was approved as a driver at the end of January 2016 and was on the platform for less than a month.
Police reports also said Dalton warned his wife 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.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered Dalton to undergo a mental competency exam.
Investigators say Dalton didn't know the victims. They still are trying to determine a motive.