A local personal injury lawyer filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Santa Monica-based scooter company Bird alleging the company deploys poorly manufactured and maintained devices. 

The lawsuit from McGee, Lerer & Associates alleges more than two dozen Bird riders and chargers suffered severe injuries resulting from defective Bird brakes, wheels, throttles and handlebars. The complaint also alleges that Xiaomi and Segway manufactured defective scooters.

“Bird has been cutting corners for years with its scooters, plain and simple,” attorney Mike Arias said in a press release. “Nationwide, people have suffered serious injuries, required emergency room care, expensive surgeries and ongoing therapy because this ‘gig economy’ company has been ignoring its customers’ safety while it rakes in profits.”

The plaintiffs named in the mass tort complaint filed May 15 say they experienced brake or throttle failures while they were near moving vehicles. Several of the plaintiffs had injuries that required surgery, such as broken wrists, arms and ankles.

According to the lawsuit, Los Angeles resident Lisa Beardslee suffered a broken wrist, road rash and injuries to her neck and shoulder when a Bird scooter’s brakes failed at an intersection in the Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles. 

The complaint also alleges that Bird fails to properly maintain its scooters and incentivizes chargers to not report broken or dysfunctional scooters because chargers are not paid if they inform Bird that scooters need to be removed from circulation.

Santa Monica resident Fahin Kamrany, who worked for Bird as a charger, was forced to jump off a Bird scooter when the brakes failed as she approached an intersection. She fractured her collarbone, cut her scalp and sprained her neck, according to the lawsuit.

Kamrany said she was riding the scooter to determine how it had been damaged because Bird had not told her the nature of the issue.

Bird, which would not immediately be reached for comment, has been the target of safety complaints in the past. It launched the most iteration of its scooter, the Bird Two, last August, which included safety features such as a tip-proof kickstand and damage sensors.

A little less than a year earlier, McGee, Lerer & Associates filed a class-action lawsuit against Bird accusing the company of negligently deploying scooters on city sidewalks and failing to ensure that the scooters were safe to ride.

Last February, a former Bird mechanic filed a lawsuit alleging that Bird fired him because he spoke up about safety issues.

The company is now one of two scooter companies authorized to operate in Santa Monica. In September 2018, the city kicked off a Shared Mobility Pilot Program that allowed Bird, Lyft, Lime and Jump to deploy devices in Santa Monica, but Lime and Jump have permanently ceased operations in the city amid the pandemic.

Bird also laid off 30% of its staff, or about 400 workers, in late March. Workers have since described the company’s culture and leadership as reckless and erratic in various news outlets covering the tech industry.

madeleine@smdp.com

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