- Dockless scooter company Bird filed a lawsuit late last month in the Superior Court of California against ScootScoop, a San Diego company that removes scooters from private property in the city then charges the dockless providers to pick them up.
- In the lawsuit, Bird accuses ScootScoop of removing scooters from public sidewalks, not from private property, as the company says it does, then requiring companies pay a “ransom” to get them back. Bird is suing ScootScoop for trespassing on personal property; violating the California Vehicle Code by towing the vehicles when they were not unlawfully parked; charging an excessive amount to have them returned; and not providing notice to law enforcement of their towing. Bird also accuses ScootScoop of intentionally interfering with the relationship it has with the city and its customers.
- "The people of San Diego are being bamboozled by a local tow company scheme," a Bird spokesperson said in a statement to Smart Cities Dive. However, ScootScoop co-founder Dan Borelli told Smart Cities Dive his company is "complying with every law in San Diego and we are removing only from private property ... We feel that everything we are doing is in full compliance."
ScootScoop has garnered plenty of publicity and controversy since it launched last summer, but this legal action is the first time it has been taken to court by a dockless company determined to stop its work. Borelli noted ScootScoop has agreements with Lyft and Wheels, and while it has no similar agreement with Bird and Lime, he said this lawsuit is "another milestone [for] ScootScoop."
Borelli said the fact that three other companies are willing to work with ScootScoop show they understand what ScootScoop is trying to achieve. "They view private property as something that needs to be recognized here in San Diego and they understand that when there's a private property that issues a parking ticket, it needs to be paid for," he said.
But Bird’s lawsuit says that ScootScoop — and Talon Auto Adjusters, another towing company listed as a defendant — is removing its scooters from public property. Bird said that is harming their efforts to provide alternative transportation options in San Diego. “Defendants’ improper impoundment scheme has caused — and continues to cause — Bird harm,” the lawsuit reads. “In addition to the direct fees Defendants are demanding for the return of Bird’s scooters, Bird has suffered — and continues to suffer — lost business, not to mention reputational harm, from having fewer scooters in circulation.”
The suit was filed on March 20, with ScootScoop represented by Neil Dymott Attorneys, a downtown firm also involved in a separate legal action against dockless companies for endangering people with disabilities on city sidewalks. Borelli said they look forward to trying the case in court. “I think we're in great hands, and I think our case is very, very strong,” he said.