Lawsuit against Uber by driver charged with murder a hoax, court says

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Jason Dalton is seen on closed circuit television during his arraignment in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kalamazoo County Court/Handout via Reuters
Jason Dalton is seen on closed circuit television during his arraignment in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, February 22, 2016.

Reuters/Kalamazoo County Court/Handout via Reuters

A U.S. court has been informed by a sheriff’s office in Michigan that a lawsuit filed by an Uber driver charged with murder seeking $10 million in damages from the ride-sharing company is a hoax, a court spokesman said on Thursday.

The U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Michigan was informed about the suit filed this week by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s office after their deputies spoke with the suspect, Jason Dalton, in jail, the spokesman said.

“At this point, it appears it is a hoax,” said court spokesman Rod Hansen, adding if it is proven to be fraudulent, it may take some time to remove the hand-written filing from the court’s online records system.

Pali Matyas, an undersheriff with the Kalamazoo Sheriff’s Office, told local TV broadcaster WDIV, the office became suspicious when it saw a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania postmark on a piece of mail attached to the filing that was supposedly sent by a person in custody in Michigan, a report from the TV station posted online on Thursday said.

“We investigated and Dalton did not send it, did not authorize it and does not know who sent it. Further it was not his handwriting and it is not a jail envelope,” Matyas was quoted as saying.

The sheriff’s office was not immediately available for comment.

The online court records show that Dalton, 45, filed the two-page, handwritten lawsuit against Uber in the U.S. court in Detroit on Tuesday, saying the Uber ruined his life and never invited him to any “corporate parties.”

The federal civil rights lawsuit also says it is Uber’s fault he is in prison, the records show.

Dalton is charged with shooting eight people, killing six of them, over a five-hour period on Feb. 20 in between driving customers for the Uber car service in Kalamazoo, which is about 150 miles (240 km) west of Detroit. Police said last month that Dalton admitted to the shootings.

He faces 16 charges, including six of murder that can bring life in prison.

Uber officials were not immediately available for comment. Before the report on the possible hoax, it said in a statement on Wednesday: “It’s hard to know how to respond to someone who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.”

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)