Uber didn’t have the decency to offer personal condolences to Sofia Liu’s family

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Sofia Liu image courtesy of fundraiser website for her funeral

In the wake of a young girl’s death in a traffic collision New Year’s Eve, allegations of improper insurance coverage and safety practices swirled Uber into the center of controversy -- but the company has yet to take a step back to offer personal condolences to the family of the girl who died that night. 

Christopher Dolan, the attorney for the family of Sofia Liu, told the Guardian at a City Hall hearing on rideshare companies that Uber has yet to offer condolences directly to the Liu family. 

The hearing on rideshares (known legally in California as Transportation Network Companies) at the Board of Supervisors Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee yesterday [Thu/6] centered on the insurance and business effects of Uber on taxi services. 

Sups. David Campos, Eric Mar, and Norman Yee grilled San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Taxi Director Christiane Hayashi and California Public Utilities Commission Director of Policy and Planning Marzia Zafar on questions sparked by Sofia Liu’s death.

Should Uber have provided insurance coverage for the driver, Syed Muzzafar, when he allegedly killed Sofia Liu and injured her family? Is it just an app, or is Uber a transportation provider like any other cab company? 

These are questions courts and regulatory bodies will decide over the course of the next year or so. But there’s one question that only Uber can answer: Why hasn’t it offered personal condolences to the family yet?

We sent Uber an email with a number of questions, and they answered every single one except for our question about offering condolences to the family. Dolan said that’s the same response they’ve given the Liu family -- silence.

A video interview with Christopher Dolan, attorney for the Liu family.

“They said, ‘jeez our hearts go out to them but we’re not responsible,’” he told us. We asked him if Uber made a phone call to the Liu family, met with them in person, or offered condolences personally in any way. “Absolutely not. Basically their message is ‘it’s too bad,’ but its not their problem. They’ve done no outreach to the family.”

The family’s suffering was deep. In an interview with ABC7 news reporter Carolyn Tyler, Liu’s mother, Huan Kuang, said "I feel very sorry for her. I cannot save her life. The driver kill her.” 

Kuang and her son Anthony were injured in the collision as well..

Perhaps there are legal reasons preventing Uber from offering its condolences directly to the family, though this sounds unlikely as Uber did post a blog directly after the incident saying, “Our hearts go out to the family and victims of the tragic accident that occurred in downtown San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. We extend our deepest condolences.”

But were these condolences extended to the family, or just the Internet? After the death of your daughter, would a blog post really cut it? We’re not buying it. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sat down for a video interview with the Wall Street Journal only six days after Sofia Liu’s death to talk about surge pricing. If he can take the time to sit down with the Wall Street Journal , he can take the time to personally offer his condolences to a family who lost its daughter in an accident that it alleges his company caused. It's been two months since Liu died.

Legality of the whole business aside, it’s the human thing to do. 

ABC 7 videointerview with Sofia Liu's mother.

Update: Four hours after Uber's initial email reply to our inquiry for this story, and an hour after the story was posted, Uber spokesperson Andrew Noyes sent us this statement: "We have privately extended our personal condolences to the Liu family." When asked how and when they were made, in order to verify his claim, he sent an email in reply declining to provide us that information. We again asked Noyes about how and when condolences were given, hoping to use the information to verify with the Liu family through their attorney. Uber again declined to provide information as to the time, date or method of offering their condolences.