Scooter Manufacturer Sued for Defective Product

On January 2, plaintiff Zella Turner filed a complaint against defendants Ninebot, Inc., Segway, Inc., Social Bicycles, LLC d/b/a Jump Bikes, Uber Technologies, Inc., John Does 1 through 5, and John Doe Corporations 1 through 5 (Zella Turner v. Ninebot Inc. et al. 1:20-cv-00002-LMM) for negligence and strict liability. The complaint was filed in the Georgia Northern District Court. Turner is represented by Turnbull, Cain & Holcomb and the Mance Law Firm. Ninebot and Segway are represented by Huff Powell & Bailey. Social Bicycles is represented by Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

Turner alleged that around January 19, 2019, she “sustained severe, life-threatening, and permanent injuries as the result of her use of a Ninebot/Segway electric scooter in Atlanta, Georgia.” Her injuries were the result of negligence in relation to the “design, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of fleets of defective electric scooters, and all Defendants’ failure to adequately maintain, inspect, and/or repair said scooters.” She claimed that Defendants did not issue an adequate warning for the “pay as you go” dockless scooters. Ninebot/Segway not only designed, manufactured and produced their own scooters, but they also did so for Uber and/or Social Bicycles. There have been numerous reports of injuries from their failed scooter equipment. The complaint alleged that the scooter companies failed to adequately warn about their products’ potential danger. Turner claimed the companies did not inspect, maintain and/or repair these electric scooters; there were also defects in the scooters’ design or manufacture.

The complaint stated that “defects include, without limitation: the sticking of the accelerator on the scooter; the sudden, unexpected, and rapid acceleration of the scooter; an unstable center of gravity; the fact that the scooter was deceivingly powerful; the small wheels, which made it unstable; and the dangerous operation of the brakes, which may have caused the scooter to throw Plaintiff forward and onto a pavement/fence when she attempted to stop the scooter.” It is presumed that these issues could have been fixed or prevented if the companies were diligent and proactive maintaining and repairing the scooters, in addition to fixing flawed designs while issuing adequate warnings. The complaint stated that the scooter companies have not made their scooters safe for the intended use. Further, the companies “supplied the scooter in an unreasonably dangerous condition” which, contributed to Turner’s injury.

The complaint alleged the scooter companies were negligent as well as reckless and consequently, should be held liable for their products. Turner has sought compensation for damages, punitive damages, judgment, and other relief.

Defendant Social Bicycles filed answers and affirmative defenses to dismiss the complaint and its claims. Social Bicycles argued that the complaint should be dismissed because it is “barred by a binding arbitration agreement between Plaintiff and the Answering Defendant”; it should also be dismissed because it is prohibited by waiver, release and the terms of the Rental Agreement. Further, Social Bicycles argued that Turner’s complaint should be dismissed because she has “waived, released, and forever discharged the Answering Defendant from any and all claims, liabilities of every kind, demands, damages (including without limitation, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive), losses, and causes of action (whether known, unknown, asserted, unasserted, fixed, conditional, or contingent) of any kind or nature by the terms of Section 6(d) of the Rental Agreement between Plaintiff and the Answering Defendant.”

Therefore, Social Bicycles should not be held liable after she agreed to the terms of use in the Rental Agreement, which she must have agreed to in order to rent and use the scooter. They also argued that she failed to state “claims upon which relief may be granted.” Social Bicycles defends that “no act or omission on the part of the Answering Defendant caused or contributed in any way to the alleged injuries or damages complained of” in the complaint and Turner failed to minimize damages. Social Bicycles, is thus not responsible for the negligence of others, including the plaintiff and other defendants in the case, they argued. Lastly, Social Bicycles alleged that “Plaintiff voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risk of incurring the same under Section 6 of the Rental Agreement.” Social Bicycles denied or was without knowledge of information to form a belief about the allegations in the complaint.