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Bird, Lime named in class-action lawsuit

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Scooter companies are accused of “gross negligence” and “abetting assault” in a complaint filed in Los Angeles court

Scooter parking was introduced in the city of Santa Monica to keep the electric vehicles out of the right of way.
Rick Cole

The two largest scooter companies in the U.S. are named as part of a class-action lawsuit filed Friday, where nine plaintiffs claim they or their properties have been injured or harmed by Bird and Lime scooters as a result of “gross negligence.”

The complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and has been obtained by Curbed, includes not just scooter riders but pedestrians who say they have sustained injuries which include broken wrists, toes, and fingers, torn ligaments, face lacerations, and “damaged” teeth.

“We filed this class-action lawsuit against Bird and Lime and the manufacturers of their electric scooters to address the terrible injuries they have inflicted on their riders and pedestrians, and the continuing harm they are causing,” Santa Monica personal-injury lawyer Catherine Lerer told Peter Holley, who broke the news of the suit in the Washington Post.

Lerer said she has received over 100 calls from people injured by the dockless mobility devices. Her firm, McGee, Lerer & Associates, has a page on its website dedicated to electric scooters.

In addition to the scooter companies being named for “aiding and abetting assault,” the complaint also notes that leaving the scooters on sidewalks and streets is a “public nuisance” that is in violation of California Civil Code, and that these plaintiffs are representative of “scores (if not hundreds) of riders and pedestrians and members of the public [who] have suffered, are continuing to suffer and will to continue to suffer egregious and avoidable injuries and damage to their person and property.”

Three plaintiffs were injured by tripping over scooters left in the right of way; two plaintiffs were injured while riding scooters, and two plaintiffs were injured when scooter riders crashed into them while walking.

Not all the plaintiffs sustained injuries due to scooters. One plaintiff says a scooter caused damage to his car. A plaintiff with a disability claimed that the way scooters were parked blocked access to disabled parking spaces for cars.

In addition to Bird and Lime, scooter manufacturers Xiaomi and Segway are named as defendants on the complaint.

A spokesperson for Lime said that the company does not comment on pending lawsuits, but “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.”

Bird, which has offices in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, noted that, “there is no evidence that riding an e-scooter presents a greater level of danger to riders than riding a bike. Cars remain the greatest threat to commuters, killing over 40,000 people in the U.S. yearly.”

Two people have been killed while riding scooter-share over the past year, including a death in Washington, D.C. where a Lime scooter rider was hit and dragged through a busy intersection by a driver in an SUV. No deaths have been reported where people walking were struck by scooters. Several emergency rooms have reported an uptick in scooter injuries, although no city has provided data to confirm the trend.

Bird and Lime are two companies which were recently granted contracts by the city of Santa Monica to operate as part of a pilot program. Lyft, which also has scooters on the ground in Santa Monica, was not named in the complaint.

The lawsuit says that scooter companies should be required to add additional safety warnings, although those warnings are not specified. On the same day the suit was filed, Lime announced several changes to its scooter model including safety improvements like an aluminum body, fatter wheels, better suspension, and a dual braking system that stops both the front and rear wheels at the same time.