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Scooter Rental, Maker Face Lawsuit Over Faulty Equipment

San Francisco-based companies Lime and Segway are facing a lawsuit on behalf of dozens of customers who claim the devices were improperly maintained, causing injuries.

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(TNS) — San Francisco scooter-rental company Lime and scooter maker Segway are facing a lawsuit filed in San Francisco on behalf of dozens of riders who say they were injured because of faulty and improperly maintained devices.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of nearly 50 people who say they suffered broken bones, head trauma, smashed teeth and other injuries from a failure to properly maintain scooters they say were also poorly manufactured.

The white-and-green scooters first appeared in 2018 on San Francisco streets and sidewalks and have become a common sight in the Bay Area and around the world. Users unlock them with a smartphone app for a fee.

“Lime’s highest priority is the safety of our riders and we take seriously any claims of injuries on our products,” a Lime spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We have received and are reviewing the claims made in this lawsuit. As the global leader in micromobility, Lime works tirelessly to ensure our riders are fully secure on our scooters and bikes.”

Lime has invested in safety by instructing riders on the best ways to use the scooters through its Respect the Ride initiative, which includes giving away 250,000 free helmets.

Segway did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit alleges Segway manufactured the scooters with insufficient safety features and that Lime distributed the devices on streets across the country but failed to keep them in safe working order, leading to faulty brakes, throttles, wheels, handles and other issues.

According to the lawsuit, the injuries happened in California, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Nevada, Kentucky and the District of Columbia.

Lime also employs workers to pick up and charge the electric scooters and put them back into service. The lawsuit claims these workers are not paid until a scooter is put back into service and are not paid if they tell the company a scooter has problems that need to be fixed, leading to defective scooters being put back onto streets.

A UCSF study from earlier this year found electric scooter-related injuries that required hospitalization have more than tripled over five years across the U.S, although the study did not look at owned versus rented scooters and was not specific to San Francisco.

Bay Area cities have scrambled to regulate scooters like those available from Lime on streets. San Francisco has taken some of the strictest controls, limiting the number of companies and vehicles allowed to operate on city streets through a pilot program.

Other companies besides Lime that are allowed to operate scooters under the San Francisco program include Scoot, Bird and Spin.

In January, Lime CEO Brad Bao said the company would lay off 14% of its workforce in 12 markets across the globe with an eye toward becoming profitable in 2020. Uber recently invested in Lime and shut down its Jump bike and scooter subsidiary, whose assets were folded into Lime.

©2020 the San Francisco Chronicle, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.