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Disabled man sues scooter maker and San Diego over injuries from boardwalk crash

Disabled man sues scooter maker and San Diego over injuries from boardwalk crash
Scooters parked outside the San Diego Convention Center. (Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The city of San Diego is facing a lawsuit filed by a disabled man who said he was injured when teenagers on an electric scooter lost control and caused a bicyclist to slam into his wheelchair on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach last July.

The man, Richard Pearson, is also suing the scooter manufacturer, Bird, over the incident, during which he said he suffered a bruised torso, ribs, left knee and left arm.

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The lawsuit was filed in San Diego County Superior Court last week.

Pearson uses an electric wheelchair. He said in the suit he was riding on the right side of the boardwalk near Pacific Beach Drive when two girls, ages 12 and 14, on a scooter suddenly crossed over the center line of the boardwalk and into Pearson’s path.

The scooter caused a cyclist to veer away and then crash into Pearson’s wheelchair. That’s when he got injured, the suit says.

The lawsuit largely blames Bird for not establishing “geofencing” — a technology that can limit the speed scooters can travel at in designated areas — and not having a speedometer on the vehicle.

The suit contends that the city is liable for creating a dangerous condition on public property. It blames the city for not having regulations in place that would require geofencing, speedometers and signs warning pedestrians that the boardwalk was also used by scooters, whose speed could not be monitored.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has since proposed a number of rules for scooters in San Diego — including requiring geofencing in various areas in the city, among them the boardwalk where Pearson claims he was hurt.

The San Diego city attorney’s office said it was reviewing the complaint. An inquiry to Bird did not get a response.

The proposed regulations by Faulconer would also require operators to indemnify the city from liability claims and carry insurance policies.

The move to provide some regulation came after public health officials from San Diego to San Francisco started speaking out about injuries related specifically to motorized dockless scooters.

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