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New California Lawsuit Accuses Electric Scooter Companies of 'Negligence,' 'Abetting Assault,' and Inciting 'Civil Unrest'

The class action suit demands Bird and Lime cease operations in the state of California.

Liudmyla Boichenko/Dreamstime.comLiudmyla Boichenko/Dreamstime.comAs dockless, electric scooters rise in popularity across America, the backlash against them has grown increasingly hysterical. Witness a new class action lawsuit accusing Lime, Bird, and other scooter rental companies of "neglect," "abetting assault," and inciting "civil unrest" in the greater Los Angeles area.

"While acting under the guise of the commendable goals of furthering personal freedom and mobility and protecting the environment, the defendants…are endangering the health, safety, and welfare of riders, pedestrians, and the general public," reads the complaint, filed by personal injury law firm McGee, Leher, & Associates last week.

The firm is representing eight plaintiffs, all of whom claim to have been injured in some fashion by electric scooters that first appeared on Los Angeles area streets late last year.

This includes Andrea Rosenthal, an arthritic, who was unable to park in a handicapped spot thanks to someone's careless placement of an electric scooter.

Worse off still is Tina Ogata who tripped over not one, not two, but three Lime scooters left on the sidewalk, resulting in a broken left wrist and ring finger. (The complaint does not specify if Ogata tripped over all three scooters at once, or rather suffered a series of falls a la Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes.)

Another plaintiff, Natasa Kojic reports being hit from behind by a Bird scooter rider, suffering "injuries to her left big-toe, right wrist, and left knee."

Then there's David "Davy Rocks" Petersen. The 62-year-old street performer was reportedly dancing in a gladiator's outfit near the Santa Monica pier when he was struck from behind by a man riding a Bird scooter, resulting in a broken arm and torn muscle which required surgery.

"My arm is never going to be the same, not to mention the five-inch-long scar it's got now," Petersen told the Washington Post. "If Bird is going to profit off the human meat grinder they've created in Santa Monica, they should be held responsible for the suffering they've caused."

This all amounts to negligence on behalf of Bird and Lime, according to the complaint, which accuses the companies of offering insufficient safety instruction to riders. The lawsuit also claims Bird and Lime are abetting assault for failing to stop their customers from crashing scooters into pedestrians.

The class action suit also dings the companies for inciting "civil unrest," noting that some individuals have thrown the scooters into the sea, lit them on fire, or buried them in the sands of California's beaches.

In return for all the evils dockless scooter companies have wrought, these plaintiffs are demanding a unspecified amount of monetary compensation, and a cessation of the two companies' scooter operations.

In response to the lawsuit, both Lime and Bird stressed their commitment to safety.

"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," reads a statement from the company.

"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.," reads a statement from Bird. "Shared e-scooters are already replacing millions of short car trips and the pollution that comes with them."

It is of course true that auto travel is by far the most dangerous mode of transportation in America today, although that too is mercifully getting safer. There were roughly 37,000 auto fatalities last year. That's compared to only two reported deaths of scooter riders since the vehicles first started appearing on city streets, one in Washington D.C., the other in Dallas.

The Washington Post's write up of D.C.'s first scooter death—the result of a rider being struck an SUV—noted that there had been 25 other transportation fatalities in 2017 in the District, including nine pedestrians, five motorcyclists, three bicyclists, seven motorists or car passengers, and one driver of an ATV.

The fact is that all modes of transportation are going to bring with them some level of risk with them, even something as simple as walking. The more electric scooters are around, the more comfortable riders will get with the vehicles, and the more pedestrians and drivers will learn how to interact with them.

This won't stop all accidents, injuries, or even deaths, and it goes without saying that scooter pilots who cause harm to pedestrians should be held accountable. But trying to hold the scooter companies themselves responsible for all harmful uses of their vehicles, not to mention trying to get them shut down entirely, is an overreaction and one that would set a dangerous precedent for other transportation services.

Photo Credit: Liudmyla Boichenko/Dreamstime.com

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  • Idle Hands||

    You knew this was going to happen. Lawyers have ruined this fucking country.

  • Jerry B.||

    So if you got injured by someone riding a scooter carelessly, you'd just write it off as bad luck?

  • IceTrey||

    No I'd call the cops have the person arrested for battery and then sue them for damages.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This.

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    No. Lawyers follow incentives like everybody else and do a tremendous amount of good overall, and yes, even the ambulance chasers. It is once again government which has distorted the legal system:

    Requiring law school to represent someone not only restricts the right to the advice of your choice, it enforces the government mentality and raises prices.

    Limiting prosecution to government prosecutors also enforces the government mentality and limits redress to those who gain the sympathy of vote-hungry politicians.

    Limiting police work to government police also enforces the government mentality and restricts redress to those who don't offend the government's police.

  • Enemy of the State||

    My favorite An-Cap ^^^

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Lawyers have ruined everything, everywhere.

    FTFY.

  • Juice||

    What does Ralph Nader have to say about all this?

  • Tionico||

    these scooters are unsafe at any speed. Or location.

  • Eddy||

    I'm told that California is, or at least was, plaintiff-friendly when the defendant is a "rich corporation."

    There may have been some backlash, I haven't been keeping track.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    ... Lawsuit Accuses Electric Scooter Companies of 'Negligence,' 'Abetting Assault,' and Inciting 'Civil Unrest'

    The same could be said about California.

  • CatchTheCarp||

    LOL

  • Juice||

    sovereign immunity ftw

  • Tionico||

    Yup. It was THEIR dirt that made this unsafe movement possible. It is also known to the State of California to lead to unsafe movements elsewhere..... particulary on the streets of San Francisco.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Ha, I guess Christian does have a sense of humor!

  • Idle Hands||

    I think Christian is easily the best of the new writers. But that could be because he has the least retarded beat focusing on transportation related corruption/stupidity of which there is an endless amount. He doesn't have to talk about Trump which Reason has absolutely no sense of humor about in their quest to attract defected left wingers to usher in a new libertarian/socialist compact.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The 62-year-old street performer was reportedly dancing in a gladiator's outfit near the Santa Monica pier when he was struck from behind by a man riding a Bird scooter...

    ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

  • Vulgar Madman||

    Do you like gladiator movies?

  • Cepera||

    @VulgarMadman :))))

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    I'd think the scar would enhance the gladiator persona.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Given the circumstances, this was no doubt intentional. You can hardly blame the guy on the scooter for wanting to take him down. Street performer, dancing in a gladiator outfit, on the Santa Monica pier. You truly cannot make this shit up,

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Perhaps the scooter driver was also a street performer performing in the same area. Perhaps he was a rival. Perhaps the gladiator was dangerously swinging his sword about and the scooter driver was heroically removing a danger to the public.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Maybe the guy was a mime in a gladiator outfit. Who doesn't hate mimes?

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Civil unrest! OMG! Next they'll retroactively accuse Parisian taxi drivers of illegally inciting unrest against Germans!

  • Enemy of the State||

  • Dillinger||

    >>>Tina Ogata who tripped over not one, not two, but three Lime scooters

    *Clouseau*. Tina Clouseau.

  • GlenchristLaw||

    Wouldn't this anecdote be the better seed for a story how societies, libertarian or otherwise, so or should deal with ambulance chaser attorneys?

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "...a series of falls a la Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes."

    It is not Bob's fault that he has big feet, unlike every true artist whose feet are small, like Crusty.

    Speaking of whom, whatever happened to Crusty?

  • Sevo||

    "As dockless, electric scooters rise in popularity across America, the backlash against them has grown increasingly hysterical."

    Another Trump story I see.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I suppose I'll need a lawyer to explain this to me: how is an electric scooter any more dangerous than other similar forms of transport? I was in Washington D.C. this past weekend and saw the electric scooters in use; they didn't seem any more dangerous to pedestrians (even gimpy old pedestrians like myself) than human-powered scooters, bicycles, segueways, etc.

  • Rossami||

    Yet another example of why we need a credible loser-pays legal system. If these plaintiffs' claims are valid, then they should be compensated. But if, as the article above strongly suggests, they are silly arguments with no chance of winning, then the plaintiffs and more importantly their lawyers should be on the hook for all the time and legal fees wasted defending from their frivolous lawsuit.

    As it is, the legal system is a lottery with no downside for plaintiffs' lawyers. They can file any trash allegation for minimal cost and no negative consequences. They clog up the courts and they distort our sense of justice.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    When in law school one of my professors introduced me to what he called "the straight face test". When considering a legal argument, stand in front of a mirror and state your case. If you can say it to the mirror without making yourself laugh, you can say it in court. I don't think this case would pass the test. Not with me, anyway.

  • Oscarson44.||

    Some attorney friends of mine have suggested awarding punitive damages to the state as a solution. These were never meant to be the lottery bonanza they have become for plaintiffs and their lawyers, and removing this incentive would help reduce these kinds of suits.
    Sounds simple enough, I imagine there is a downside although I have not heard of it yet.

  • Sigivald||

    The Judge should dismiss with prejudice, and make the filer pay legal costs.

    Because that's beyond baseless.

  • Cepera||

    How are dangers from shared scooters different from those from shared bicycles which have been present in LA for quite some time?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Scooter jousting!!!!!!!!

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Only The State is allowed to have "scooter systems", Citizen.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Bottom feeders gotta bottom feed. What else is there to say?

  • Tionico||

    Were Home Depot held liable for the deaths and injuries caused by the driver who rented one of their pickups and rammed into a bunch of folks on a bike/pedestrian path in Manhattan? Of course not. Were Home Depot sued because they did not "take enough time with the renters" of their trucks to instruct them in proper operatioin and safety? Not that one, either. As to the eedjits chucking them into lakes, the ocean, etc, what do the scooter owners have to do with that? Does anyone think they are really liable for what someone does with their stuff? ARe Sherwin Williams paint cmpany held liable for any of the "tagging" done to private or public property? Don't be ridiculous.

    Since when is Party A held liable for the independent and uncontrollable discrete actions of Party B?

    Now, their logs should show who was operating which scooter when and where, so the ones that have whacked into innocents should be able to identify the users and take legal action. Law enforcement should cooperate. If I readt a car from Avis and hit someone, Avis will certainly squeal my identity to LE. And so they should.

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