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Mother of Lyft driver killed files wrongful death lawsuit

Kristian Philpotts, 29, was killed on January 12th, 2022 while driving for Lyft. His body was found{ } near Vine and Burkwood in Urbana. (WCCU)
Kristian Philpotts, 29, was killed on January 12th, 2022 while driving for Lyft. His body was found near Vine and Burkwood in Urbana. (WCCU)
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Kristian Philpotts, 29, was shot in the back on January 12, 2022, while driving for Lyft.

Three teens have since been arrested in connection to his death. but one, Tyjohn Williams of Champaign, who was 17 at the time, is believed to have acted alone in pulling the trigger. According to the lawsuit, Williams' mother, Tia Williams, and Lyft supposedly knew Williams was using the app to target rideshare drivers but failed to take action.

"The family has reason to believe that this was not the first time in which the suspect used a rideshare application to target a rideshare driver for some malfeasance or criminal act,” said LegalRideShare attorney and co-founder Bryant Greening.

According to the lawsuit filed on March 8th by Philpott's mother, Marla Rice, Lyft and Tia Williams knew or should have known that Tia’s Lyft app was being used by her son to target rideshare drivers. Yet, the lawsuit further states, they did nothing to stop or prevent a crime such as Philpott's death from happening.

The suit also states that Tia Williams is responsible for the criminal acts of her son under the Illinois' Parental Responsibility Law.

"So here the allegation is that Mr. Williams committed battery against Mr. Philpotts. Mr. Williams was a minor and therefore the family alleges that his mother could be held responsible for those wrongful acts,” explained Greening.

According to Greening, the family of Kristian Philpotts is filing this suit in order to collect damages from the wrongful death of Philpotts. In a statement to Fox Illinois', Rice said in-part, "...All the parties involved need to be held accountable. People need to be held accountable for their actions. Parents need to be held accountable for their minor children, and Lyft needs to be held accountable for the lack of safety for their drivers."

At this time, there is no court date set for the wrongful death suit. Tyjohn Williams has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Philpotts and his criminal case is ongoing.

We reached out to Lyft about the lawsuit and they told us to refer to their earlier statement from May 2022 that said, “Since day one, we’ve built safety into every part of the Lyft experience. We are committed to doing everything we can to help protect drivers from crime, and will continue to take action and invest in technology, policies and partnerships to make Lyft as safe as it can be."

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