Dorothy “Dolly” Green was injured tripping over a scooter

A judge ruled Friday against Lyft and the city of Santa Monica’s objections to litigation initiated by an elderly woman who tripped over a Lyft scooter in Downtown Santa Monica.

Dorothy “Dolly” Green, 87, was on her way to class at the Santa Monica Community College Emeritus, a school for older adults, when she tripped over a scooter and sustained multiple fractures to her hip and elbow that required surgery, according to Green’s first amended complaint against Lyft, the city and the Santa Monica Community College District.

On Sept. 24, 2018, Green’s daughter dropped her off in a “passenger loading only” zone in front of the school, which was designated by the city as a “no deployment zone” for electric scooters. When Green stepped onto the curb, she tripped over a Lyft scooter that was parked on the sidewalk and fell back onto the street.

Green tripped over the scooter just five days after the city launched its Shared Mobility Pilot Program, which allowed Lyft, Bird, Lime and Jump, which is owned by Uber, to deploy scooters and bikes in Santa Monica. The pilot program regulates where the devices can be safely deployed and ridden.

Green’s complaint alleges that Lyft and the city were negligent and created a public nuisance in allowing scooters to be parked in front of a loading zone in front of a school for the elderly after designating the area as a “no deployment zone.” The complaint asks for at least $500,000 in damages to be awarded following a January 2021 trial.

“Ms. Green suffered five fractures in her pelvis. Her quality of life and independence have dramatically changed as a result of her injuries,” said Green’s attorney Catherine Lerer, who is also representing plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Bird and Lime. “The responsible parties must pay for the harm caused.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Theresa Traber overruled Lyft and the city’s demurrers to Green’s complaint. (The Santa Monica Community College District also filed a demurrer, which has not yet been heard.) Traber wrote in her decision that Green’s allegations justified her case against Lyft and the city.

Traber opined that Lyft deploying its scooters without docks and encouraging users to leave the scooters anywhere created a safety risk that resulted in Green’s injuries. Traber also wrote that the city is liable for Green’s injuries because it did not impound scooters that were placed in a “no deployment zone” that was regularly used by elderly people.

“(The city) argues it is immune from liability because the decision to impound or not impound a scooter is a policy decision. The court disagrees,” Traber wrote. “This decision is not a basic policy decision. Rather, this decision is an operational decision.”

City spokesperson Constance Farrell said an earlier ruling in a different lawsuit affirmed the city’s view that its Shared Mobility Pilot Program complies with applicable federal and state laws. The city council will review a report on the program and decide whether to extend it at its Tuesday meeting.

“The City is dedicated to continuing to improve its pilot program and to working with operators and riders in response to community members’ concerns,” Farrell said.

Lerer said the ruling constitutes a victory for pedestrians.

“Our community members, especially our seniors and people with disabilities, must be able to safely navigate our sidewalks. That is their right,” Lerer said. “These dockless electric scooter companies have taken away that right.”

Lyft has not yet replied to a request for comment.

madeleine@smdp.com

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11 Comments

  1. Why isn’t Lyft or the city finding out who rented the scooter and left it there? They should sue them too so it will set precedent and keep other riders from breaking scooter rules.

  2. Cuz its not his/her’s fault since there’s no rule on where you can leave these scooters (which is the company’s fault) !

  3. or just watch where you are walking (or unloading) – had she tripped over a person walking by or a dog, or perhaps slipped on a homeless person… would she be suing then as well…

    $500,000 for falling? Damn I will now sue the city everytime I trip…

    I just ask one question, if this has been a 26 year old – would we allow the suit to happen?

  4. They track all their scooters. They can find out who left it there. Maybe a fine or blocking that user from riding for a while would be enough to spread the word that leaving the scooters in inappropriate places has consequences.

  5. I hope she wins millions.
    These scooters and some of their riders are obnoxious and make transportation much more dangerous than it already is. They leave their scooters wherever the F they feel like and have absolutely no regard to traffic laws.
    Especially in SM, where a few of them cut me off, both as a car driver AND as a pedestrian.
    And they should be fined for parking on the sidewalk, the exact same way any vehicle is!
    Why are they exempt???

  6. In Los Angeles, riders are supposed to be held accountable for illegal operation and parking. However, the entire system is a gaping public safety hazard, and a lesson in how NOT to regulate commerce. Santa Monica City Council should know better.

    In fact, the state Department of Motor Vehicles should manage licensing. Riders must be tested, licensed – and helmeted. Scooters must have license plates visible from a distance. They should be (and they CAN be) geo-fenced to prevent illegal operation and to report unsafe and illegal parking. The tools are there to be used.

    In the meantime, vendors are knowingly as responsible as are municipalities and states. If they want to avoid responsibility, they must program GPS data to report illegal uses directly to law enforcement.

    While rocket science built the systems upon which mobile digital commerce depends, preserving public safety is not rocket science. Public safety is common sense.

    Elected officials who fail to protect the public should be replaced by responsible humans who are willing to prioritize public safety over commercial predation. Government is the guardrail. Government officials must act like it.

  7. Hoooray for that lady who won. People leave those scooters all over the place. They are easily knocked over and then they present an even greater hazard. I would have demanded at least a couple million. $500,000 is nothing for Santa Monica.

  8. Can we just get rid of these scooters already. It’s nothing more than an offshoot of the global warming hysteria… Like a few scooters will ever amount to a hill of beans.

  9. MK an 87 year old breaking her hip is pretty much a death sentence. The money will go to caregivers she’s going to need for the rest of her life. That dollar amount is actually low considering 1/3 of it will go to her lawyer.

  10. Get rid of all these pestilential scooters, or at the very least recognise that they have wheels and get them off the sidewalks and on to the road. if that is more dangerous for the riders, tough, they have a choice.

  11. A simple reply to all of the above comments:

    1. Scooters are already NOT allowed on sidewalks, as written by Los Angeles County lawmakers. Police DO look for riders that do that… but like any other crime, they’re not going to be there to witness even half of those bad riders’ actions.

    2. There IS geo-fencing being done. Not all companies are compliant, or detailed enough, but they DO have the option, and most companies enforce their geo-fences. I know for a fact that at least 2 companies will not allow parking in some zones, or riding at all in others. On top of that, some companies limit their scooters’ top speed in certain sections of very crowded areas.

    3. The scooter company should not be liable for a person “tripping” over a scooter, that was on the sidewalk. Whether it was standing or fallen over, it wasn’t invisible. While I feel bad for the outcome of her fall, I would be more curious as to the state of her eyesight and/or mental comprehension ability. No one would simply “walk into a scooter” without knowing there is going to be a physical consequence. The same would be said for walking into the back of a UPS truck that’s been parked for minutes, or even hours/days… then claiming the truck was illegally parked “in your way”. ::raised eyebrow:: In addition, scooter companies are required to deploy their scooters on the sidewalks. No street deployments are allowed, for safety reasons. This is also why there are now Scooter Parking Zones throughout LA, and some surrounding areas (like Venice). The city is slowly increasing these locations as they go along. It is up to the riders

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