Scooters are lined up across the street from Alameda Theatre.
Council voted 10-1 to formalize agreements with California-based Bird, Lime, and Razor. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

A San Antonio resident who alleges she was injured when the e-scooter she was riding hit a pothole is suing Lime, the company that owns the scooter, and the City of San Antonio.

It is believed to be the first liability suit related to e-scooters in the city.

Tina Louise Galvan filed suit against Lime and the City in a Bexar County district court on Wednesday, alleging that Lime marketed its scooters as a product that should be ridden on streets. That conflicts with safety warnings issued by the scooter manufacturer – which Brad Bonilla, Galvan’s attorney, identified as Segway – advising against riding on “public roads, motorways, or highways,” according to the suit. The suit also claims the City is liable because the pothole led to Galvan’s fall, and dim street lighting prevented her from seeing it beforehand.

Galvan was riding a Lime scooter at about 9:30 p.m. on June 15 near the intersection of East Carson and Muncey streets in the Government Hill neighborhood when she struck the pothole, according to the suit. The impact launched her into the air, and she sustained injuries to her head, neck, face, forearm, and wrist after hitting the pavement, the suit said.

Galvan is seeking between $200,000 and $1 million in damages in the suit.

Bonilla has sued Lime before. In February, Bonilla filed suit on behalf of an Austin resident, claiming the company negligently left malfunctioning scooters in its fleet. He said scooter companies are not adequately warning consumers about the two-wheeled vehicles’ limitations.

“I think the failing to warn is an important component because when a manufacturer sells a scooter the manufacturer gives explicit warnings to the consumer about how the product should be used,” Bonilla said. “Everything the manufacturer tells the consumer not to do the scooter companies are essentially telling the consumer to do.”

Lime’s user agreement bars scooter riders from traversing unpaved roads; doing stunts or racing with them; riding distracted, such as while using a phone; and riding drunk or under the influence of drugs. Also included is a liability waiver in which the user assumes responsibility for damage to the scooter, theft, and any bodily harm, among other things.

Lime and the City of San Antonio both declined to comment on the pending case.

“While we can’t comment on active litigation, the safety of our riders and community is our highest priority,” the company said in a statement.

Beginning July 1, the City of San Antonio banned scooterists from riding on the sidewalk. Violating the ban is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Regulating the nascent scooter industry has been a delicate balancing act for the City. It began with a bare-bones approach in which no limits were placed on the number of scooters or companies that could operate in the City, as well as fewer rules of the road. The City later adopted stricter enforcement measures and restricted the number of undocked, rentable electric vehicles to fewer than half of the previously authorized 16,100.

More than 170 injuries were tied to scooter use in the city between late September and early June. More recent figures were not available Thursday.

The suit also argues Lime improperly stores and maintains its scooters. According to the suit, scooter manufacturers recommend storing the vehicles in a cool, dry place. Not following those instructions can compromise the integrity of the scooter, Bonilla said.

“I don’t know of any Lime scooters that are stored indoors in a cool, dry place,” he said. “They’re left out in the hot, Texas sun.”

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.