A class-action lawsuit over the safety of electric scooters has been filed against scooter startups Bird and Lime, a Santa Monica firm announced Monday.
The court filing was submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday on behalf of individuals claiming to have been harmed by the scooters. It's the first class-action lawsuit filed against the two major scooter-sharing companies, according to Costell & Cornelius Law Corporation.
The lawsuit, which also lists manufacturers Segway and Xiaomi as defendants, names nine plaintiffs. They include three people who claimed being injured by riders who crashed into them from behind and three others who said they tripped over scooters that had been left on the sidewalk.
One of them said he "seriously damaged" eight of his front teeth. Another said he had to undergo surgery for a torn bicep tendon.
“I was struck from behind by a young man in a Bird scooter. My right arm was broken and my right bicep was severed for my lower arm..." David Petersen said at a news conference on Monday.
Another plaintiff, a San Diego County resident, said a rider crashed into his car and damaged it. An L.A. County resident claimed he suffered injuries to his ribcage, knees and hip after falling off a scooter when the accelerator locked up.
Another resident in L.A. County said she had come across Bird or Lime scooter blocking parking spots for handicapped individuals on multiple occasions. That plaintiff has a degenerative disease and arthritis in her knees, according to the lawsuit.
The defendants' distribution of scooters in public spaces across California "has caused civil unrest," the lawsuit says, citing individuals who throw the scooters into trashcans, the ocean and the Venice canals, as well as those who light the scooters on fire and bury them into the sand at beaches. The companies have "aided and abetted assaults through their actions," the court filing says.
The lawsuit also alleges that by "dumping" thousands of scooters into the streets in a short period of time, the defendants have acted negligently "with a conscious disregard" for the public's safety.
Attorneys who filed the lawsuit said they were seeking compensation for medical bills and other expenses for the plaintiffs. They also said insurance should be required for riders, as well as visible license plates on scooters.
The rental scooters started inundating streets and sidewalks last year. This September, L.A. councilmembers approved the city's first set of regulations for scooter companies, including a 15-mph speed limit.
The same month, the L.A. City Attorney's office announced the first conviction for operating a scooter under the influence.
Bird, which has its headquarters in Santa Monica, recently announced several L.A. County locations where the scooters aren't welcome.
In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Bird maintained the company is part of the solution to the ongoing climate crisis.
"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.," said a spokesperson for Bird. "At Bird, safety is our very top priority, and it drives our mission to get cars off the road to make cities safer and more livable...Shared e-scooters are already replacing millions of short car trips and the pollution that comes with them..."
Lime, which is based in Northern California, said the company puts safety first and that it's reviewing the complaint.