The New York Times reports that the lawsuit, filed by a former Airbnb guest, accuses the company of negligence in failing to properly screen hosts.
That failure, she claims, resulted in a California host sexually assaulting her in July 2016.
The Alleged Incident
According to the lawsuit, the woman had rented a studio apartment in Los Angeles that was attached to the man’s home.
The woman said she booked the room for a month after finding that the man was listed as a so-called “Superhost” because of previous reviews on the site.
After arriving at the property, the woman said the man’s behavior made her uncomfortable, noting that he allegedly made sexually suggestive comments, used drugs in front of his child, and pounded on her windshield.
She left after just three nights.
However, she says she returned a week later to retrieve items she had left in the still-rented room. At that point, the lawsuit claims, the host said he wanted to show her something in the studio apartment.
The woman contends that the man then locked the door to the room after she followed him in. The suit then claims the man forced her into a chair and began masturbating in front of her. As she left the scene, the man allegedly reminded her to leave him a good review on Airbnb, the suit states.
The man has denied the assault took place, the Times reports.
A rep for Airbnb tells the Times that the woman contacted the company a month after the incident and it immediately removed the host from the site.
“We supported her right away and took him off our platform,” Nick Shapiro, the company’s global head of trust and risk management, said.
Despite this, the woman says the company could have, and should have, done more. Specifically, she claims that Airbnb should have done a more thorough background check on the man.
If that had occurred, the suit claims, the company would have found that the man had previously been arrested and charged with battery.
The Times notes that the man was never convicted of a crime, but was referred to an anger management program after the previous arrest.
Shapiro tells the Times that he couldn’t comment on the man’s background, but noted that a check by the company found he had no prior convictions.