New York Uber Driver Refused to Take Woman in Labor, Her Husband Claims

PHOTO: The Uber application runs on a drivers iPhone during an Uber ride in Washington, D.C., April 8, 2015.Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The Uber application runs on a driver's iPhone during an Uber ride in Washington, D.C., April 8, 2015.

A New York lawyer says he's disappointed with Uber after one of its drivers allegedly refused to take him and his pregnant wife to the hospital when she was in labor.

When David Lee's wife went into labor in October, the Manhattan couple could tell that, while the baby wasn't arriving that moment, it was time to leave for the hospital, he told ABC News today.

So they called Uber. While they were loading up the car, Lee's wife, who did not want her name published, vomited outside, he said.

"It's not uncommon for people to have nausea while you're in the laboring process," Lee, 37, said.

Lee said they had plastic bags and towels. "We felt pretty prepared," he said, but added, "I could see why the driver was nervous about it."

"But rather than making sure everyone was OK or seeing if anyone needed help," Lee said, "[The driver] took me aside and very aggressively and somewhat condescendingly told me no driver would take her and she needs an ambulance."

Lee said he explained to the driver, "'She's not going to give birth in the car, she's going to be fine. This is normal in the labor process.'"

"But instead the guy was really combative ... he said, 'No, I'm not taking you,'" Lee recalled.

"It was unpleasant," Lee said. "But at the end of the day, these things happen," he said, adding that they "were not in an emergency situation."

Uber charged Lee $13 for the waiting time and Lee said Uber refunded the amount.

The couple ended up calling another Uber who "was great," Lee said. "Super friendly," he said, and even "avoided driving over potholes."

He and his wife made it to the hospital where they welcomed their first child, a son -- Lee called it the "best day of my life."

But then Lee contacted Uber about the first driver.

"I thought if I emailed or called Uber they'd say, 'This is terrible, we'll speak to the driver.' But instead I got a very indirect, sort of non-response response."

Lee says, "the best I got out of them was 'Yeah, I wouldn't want to this to happen to me.'"

Uber "refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing," and instead called it a "matter between them and the driver," Lee said.

Later, Lee says his last contact with Uber management was some months ago when he says Uber told him it was working on the quality of service by drivers.

But then Lee’s complaint was picked up in the press, first by Fortune magazine. Today, an Uber spokesperson told ABC News in a statement: “Denying service to a passenger in labor is unacceptable: it goes against our code of conduct and the standard of service our riders rely on. We extend our deepest apologies to both riders and have taken action to respond to this complaint."

"We are glad that the rider’s next driver was professional and courteous," the statement from Uber continued. "As always, we will continue to ensure that all riders and drivers understand and the shared standard of respect, accountability, and courtesy for everyone in the Uber community.”

While the encounter with the first driver was "obviously annoying," Lee said, "that's one person."

"I expect the company to have behaved differently," he explained, adding that he thinks Uber should be "committed to training their drivers to act responsibly." But Lee stressed that he doesn't have an "ax to grind" and has no intention of suing Uber -- he just hopes sharing his story may help others.