Scooter Startup Sues Beverly Hills

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 08, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An electric scooter company is suing the City of Beverly Hills for impounding its scooters and levying fines of more than $100,000.

In Bird Rides v. City of Beverly Hills, the startup says the city has "gone to the extreme" and violated the California Vehicle Code. Not only that, the lawsuit says, the city has violated state open-meeting, public participation, and environmental laws.

It sounds like a scattershot complaint except that a BigLaw firm filed the case, and it doesn't usually wing it. (Bird puns totally intended.)

Scattershot Complaint?

O'Melveny & Myers represents Bird, which is already facing a class-action lawsuit for injuries to riders and pedestrians. The plaintiffs there allege suffering broken wrists, toes, fingers, teeth and other injuries from the rented scooters, which users drop off everywhere.

In the Beverly Hills case, however, Bird says the city has injured the company. The city has not responded to the suit yet, but municipalities generally have the power to police public sidewalks and streets.

Even so, the plaintiffs are attacking the city's scooter ban. The city started impounding the scooters after approving a six-month ban on "shared mobility devices" in July.

"The City Council argued that scooters are 'unregulated,'" Bird said in its complaint. "This is plainly untrue."

Technical Attack

In the lawsuit, Bird's attorneys cite the California Vehicle Code to show that scooters are regulated. Bird had the same words when the city banned them.

"The City's ban on e-scooters is unlawful and preempted by the California Vehicle Code, which grants operators of motorized scooters the same rights and privileges as operators of other motor vehicles, and explicitly promotes adoption of emissions-free motorized scooters," the company said.

Meanwhile, many other cities have banned or limited the scooters in California and elsewhere. Bird has usually moved on to other areas, but the $100,000 fine was apparently enough to squawk about it.

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