A class action lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by nine plaintiffs against electric Scooter renters Bird and Lime and electric scooter manufacturers, Xiaomi United States and Segway. Two members of the class were injured from being hit by electric scooters as pedestrians, three others were injured by tripping over scooters and two others were injured while riding defectively dangerous or poorly maintained scooters. One of the plaintiffs claimed property damage after an electric scooter crashed into his car, and another who has a disability complained of discarded scooters blocking access to handicapped parking. The lawsuit alleges that the class action members 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 continue to suffer egregious and avoidable injuries and damage to their person or property.”
The members of the class further allege that the scooter rental companies “aided and abetted assault” and were negligent in assuring scooter safety and breached certain implied warranties. They also contend that Bird and Lime created a public nuisance by “dumping” thousands of their scooters onto the streets, sidewalks and public places of various cities. In the context of the allegations against Xiaomi United States and Segway, it’s alleged that “While acting under the guise and commendable goals of furthering 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.”
The Liability Issue
As per the sum and substance of the rider agreements of both Bird and Lime, the users of their scooters agree that they are assuming sole and exclusive liability for any injuries, damages or other claims arising from the use of the scooters. If the user agreements withstand judicial scrutiny, any person who is injured or otherwise damaged as a result of electric scooter use must look to the user for compensation. While scooter riders are indeed causing injuries, what comes to issue in that context is that most electric scooter users are virtually uninsured while operating them. A victim’s uninsured motorist insurance is unlikely to cover damages suffered in a scooter crash too.
No Formal Answers Have Been Filed
None of the defendant companies has filed a formal answer or otherwise pled to the class action lawsuit. On the informal side, neither Xiaomi United States nor Segway has publicly remarked on the lawsuit. Lime said it’s attorneys are in the process of reviewing the sufficiency of the complaint. Bird’s stated, “We believe that the climate crisis and our car dependency demand a transportation mode shift, and clean energy vehicles like e-scooters are already replacing millions of short car trips.”
Rather than answering each and every allegation of the lawsuit, expect each and every defendant in it to file its own motion to dismiss. We’ll be following this class action as it works its way through the courts, and we’ll continue to keep you advised on it. As class actions go, it’s only in the embryonic stages.