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Passenger of Kalamazoo shooter Jason Dalton files lawsuit against Uber

Matt Mellen and his girlfriend were picked up by convicted killer Jason Dalton on February 20, 2016 just hours before he would go on a shooting rampage throughout the city
Uber web pic
Posted at 5:55 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 18:14:29-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Matt Mellen and his girlfriend were picked up by now-convicted killer, and former Uber driver, Jason Dalton on February 20, 2016, just hours before he would go on a shooting rampage throughout the city.

Mellen is now suing Uber, saying that he attempted to contact the company's incident response team for over an hour after his erratic ride with Dalton.

According to the lawsuit filed this week in federal court, Mellen now suffers from survivor's guilt and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to his inability to reach Uber, and effectively stop Dalton from hurting or killing anyone.

6 people were killed, and 2 others injured, at multiple spots throughout Kalamazoo that night. All of the shootings taking place shortly after Mellen convinced Dalton to let him out of his vehicle following an erratic ride.

"Hi, I'd like to report a crazy driver. I just got an Uber to my friend's house. On the way there, he was driving erratic on West Main. He hit a car, he drove through the woods, and I finally just jumped out," Mellen said in a call to 911 after his ride with Dalton.

"I mean, he stopped, because I was like 'this is my destination, this is my destination', so I got out of the car, and it was like a block from where my actual destination was, right? I had to get out of the car because I was scared. He was driving 50/60 miles per hour, he hit a car, he drove through the medium. It was crazy."

According to Mellen's lawsuit, he attempted to contact Uber's 24/7 on-call response team to let them know that "Dalton was/ had become a danger to Matt Mellen, society, and that Uber's driver, Dalton, needed to be deactivated immediately."

Mellen's lawsuit alleges that Uber did not have the 24/7 incident response team they claimed to on their website, which Mellen was trying to reach.

According to the lawsuit, because they allegedly falsely claimed to have that safety system in place, when they did not, "the guilt kicks in for Matt Mellen; the re-living of the events of that day and night in excruciating, painful detail; the feeling of total helplessness, the sense of being thoroughly defrauded over there being no way to connect with Uber and stop the Uber driving, the Uber driver's crimes, the shootings, the killings."

FOX 17 spoke to WMU-Cooley Law School professor Mark Dotson Tuesday about some of the unique challenges of winning a case like this.

“In order for us to convince somebody that you've suffered emotion, it's not going to be enough for you just to get up there and talk about your life and how that's changed," Dotson explained Tuesday. "Doctor's visits? Do you have proof? Have you seen psychologists or psychiatrists? Do you have somebody in your life that can speak to your emotional state during that five year period?”

Dotson says juries are often more receptive to claims of physical suffering, rather than psychological.

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