Vachata v. Lanza

Danae Vachata, 29, a technology company co-founder listed on Forbes "30 Under 30 in Healthcare," filed a lawsuit accusing prominent venture capitalist Lucio Lanza, 73, of sexually assaulting her on an overnight flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis. The lawsuit accuses Lanza of groping Vachata's breast and crotch and trying to kiss her, while bragging that his power as a venture capitalist could make or break her company.

According to the lawsuit, Vachata immediately reported the attack to another passenger, who was an off-duty pilot, and to airline personnel. She then suffered an anxiety attack on board her next flight, causing her to briefly lose consciousness. The attack was also reported to law enforcement.
Vachata stated, "Exposing sexual harassment and assault is vital. It is real, and it is persistent. Victims did not create the problem, but we will be part of the solution." Vachata continued, "We can't be afraid to stand up for ourselves and others-safety is a basic human right."
Vachata's attorneys have represented women in other high profile sexual harassment and sex discrimination cases. According to David Lowe, one of Vachata's attorneys at Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe, LLP, "What happened to Danae fits a shocking pattern of Silicon Valley elites using their power and influence to exploit and denigrate women. Thanks to the courage of people like Danae Vachata, their days of getting away with it are over."

Michelle Lee, a partner at Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe who also represents Vachata, added, "Sexual assault and abuse is unacceptable. It takes brave women like Danae who are willing to step forward to hold perpetrators accountable and say, 'time's up'."
The lawsuit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, seeks damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, injunctive relief and attorneys' fees and costs.

Read the complaint.

Press Coverage

USA Today: Venture Capitalist Bragged About Steve Jobs, Then Assaulted Woman on Overnight Flight
The Mercury News: Lawsuit: Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Female Startup Founder on Red-Eye Flight