Electric Scooter Manufacturers and Rental Companies Sued For Lack of Turn Signal

Erin Norman filed a class-action complaint against Uber Technologies, Inc., Neutron Holdings, Inc. doing business as Lime, Segway, Inc., and Xiaomi USA LLC for allegedly manufacturing and renting unsafe scooters. Thursday’s Northern District of California filing seeks declaratory relief, recovery from the plaintiff’s personal injury damages, and, on behalf of the putative class, injunctive relief requiring the implementation of scooter safety measures.

According to the complaint, the defendants manufacture scooters and rent them in urban centers around the country. It says Uber offers scooter rental services through its subsidiary, Jump. Lime, which offers a similar service whereby users “find and unlock (a scooter) via a mobile app which knows the location of available vehicles using GPS,” recently purchased Jump from Uber.

Segway, another defendant, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ninebot, Inc., a Chinese transportation and robotics company. They together “manufacture and sell numerous motorized personal vehicles, including the electric scooters marketed, distributed, and leased by Lime and/or Uber.” The final defendant is China-based Xiaomi’s U.S. subsidiary, which also reportedly makes electric scooters for the same rental companies.

The thrust of the complaint is that the defendants’ scooters are inadequately designed for use on California roads because they are not equipped with turn signal indicators, and, in order to comply with California traffic laws, users must remove one hand from the handlebar to manually indicate that they are stopping or turning. The complaint alleged that this is unsafe and that the defendants have also failed to adequately warn users about the risks of operating scooters with only one hand on the handlebar.

Norman, a named plaintiff, was purportedly injured when she lifted one hand from the bar while riding a Jump scooter in San Francisco, California. According to the filing, “when Norman removed her hand from the handlebar of the scooter, the scooter became unstable and Plaintiff lost control of the scooter and the scooter turned quickly, sending Plaintiff falling to the concrete.” As a result of her fall, she reportedly suffered “hip dislocation and multiple related fractures which required a complex emergency surgery lasting hours.”

In turn, Norman seeks compensation for “significant personal injuries” and “a public injunction against (the) Defendants enjoining them from selling or leasing scooters in the State of California without first providing the necessary warnings and/or providing a safe means of legal operation.” Specifically, the filing requests that the companies to “remov(e) the scooter vehicles from use until the public is properly warned about their inherently dangerous condition, and/or until the scooter vehicles’ defective turn signaling system is replaced or rectified.”

As the complaint notes, since their inception in 2017, rentable scooters “have proliferated around the United States offering consumers a purportedly safe and convenient way to navigate cities as opposed to public transportation or automobiles.” Yet, rider personal injury suits have accompanied their popularity boom.

For example, riders sued Lime earlier this year for personal injuries allegedly resulting from defective or improperly maintained scooters. In addition, several cities, including New York City, have responded by limiting the use of or banning scooters until safety measures can be adopted and effected.

Erin Norman and the putative class are represented by Carlson Lynch LLP and Hindman APC.