A local attorney has filed a class action lawsuit against two scooter companies alleging the scooters themselves are unsafe, the distribution model is illegal and the companies should be held liable for the bad behavior of some riders.
The suit, filed by the firms Costell & Cornelius and McGee, Lerer & Associates, names Bird and Lime as operators. It also names scooter manufacturers Xiaomi and Segway.
“While acting under the guise of the commendable goals of further personal freedom and mobility and protecting the environment, the Defendants, and each of them, are endangering the health, safety and welfare of riders, pedestrians and the general public,” said the document filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The suit alleges the companies should have known their devices would become a public nuisance and claims they are unsafe for use.
“In ‘dumping’ thousands of Scooters onto our streets, sidewalks and other Public Places within a very short period of time, without any significant, reasonable or appropriate warning to or approval by public authorities, the Scooter Defendants, and each of them, have acted in a grossly negligent manner and outrageously, maliciously, fraudulently and oppressively and/or with a conscious disregard for the health, safety and welfare of the Plaintiffs, and each of them, and the general public, thereby justifying the imposition of punitive or exemplary damages,” it said.
The suit has been filed on behalf of several individuals who say they have been hurt by the industry.
The named plaintiffs include the mother of a boy who was injured when he was hit by a scooter riding illegally on the beach path, three women who tripped over scooters on the sidewalk, a man whose car was hit by a scooter rider, a scooter rider who fell when he claims the throttle stuck causing him to crash, a man who was hit by a scooter on the sidewalk and a woman who said she was unable to access her disabled parking space because scooters were blocking the space.
“Lime received the complaint recently and we are in the process of reviewing it,” said a statement released by the company. “While we don’t comment on pending litigation, safety has always been at the very core of everything we do at Lime — as is our mission of reducing cars from city streets and making them safer and greener for pedestrians, bike and scooter riders alike. Lime prides itself on always taking proactive steps relating to safety wherever we have a presence.”
In a statement, Bird said efforts targeting scooters were misplaced.
“Class action attorneys with a real interest in improving transportation safety should be focused on reducing the 40,000 deaths caused by cars every year in the U.S,” said the statement. “At Bird, safety is our very top priority, and it drives our mission to get cars off the road to make cities safer and more livable. The climate crisis and our car addiction demand a transportation mode shift to cleaner, affordable vehicles. Shared e-scooters are already replacing millions of short car trips and the pollution that comes with them, and we at Bird will continue to work with cities to help them redesign their transportation networks so that they are safer and cleaner.”
One of the attornies on the case, Catherine Lerer, said the goal is to improve safety for everyone.
“We don’t want to see eclectic scooters banned, we just want them to be more safe,” she said.
Lerer said the companies have the technology to know when riders violate laws, such as riding on the beach path or Promenade, and if they are choosing to allow illegal behavior, they are facilitating the injuries.
“I feel like this is the right thing,” she said of the decision to pursue legal action. “My office has gotten so many calls from injury victims and someone needs to hold these companies accountable for these injuries.”