Kara Korona was on her way to an appointment on one of those rented e-scooters that are all the rage around downtown Tampa.
But along the way, Korona hit a broken patch of sidewalk and went down, seriously injuring herself on the scooter’s handlebars, according to a recently-filed lawsuit.
Korona, 32, ended up in five hours of emergency surgery for internal injuries, later needed a second hospitalization, spent a total of 12 days in the hospital and suffered permanent damage, according to her attorney and a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County civil court.
Korona is now suing the City of Tampa, the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority and scooter company Bird Rides Inc., alleging negligence as well as “tiny and unreadable” fine print in the scooter rental agreement.
Both the city and the expressway authority declined to comment on pending litigation. Bird did not answer emails for comment.
In August of 2019, Korona was riding a rented e-scooter on the sidewalk along Washington Street under or near an expressway overpass. Scooters are permitted on sidewalks in Tampa. According to the lawsuit, she was trying to avoid obstructions on the sidewalk when she hit the broken part and crashed.
The lawsuit also takes issue with the rental agreement customers get via cell phone when they get the scooter, which includes a waiver of liability. Korona received 26 pages of confusing and “almost microscopic” print, the suit says, while the law requires such agreements to be readable.
“As you stand there on the sidewalk on a bright Florida day, you can’t really read it,” said Korona’s attorney Brian Rush. “The tiny print on a cell phone is extremely difficult to read, and as a practical matter, people aren’t going to read 26 pages on a cell phone. They’re just not.”
At least two other scooter-related lawsuits have been filed. Last year a man sued Bird claiming he was provided a “defective” scooter that malfunctioned and caused him to fall and hurt his arm. In July, a man walking in Harbour Island said he tripped on an overturned scooter on the sidewalk and blamed scooter vendor Spin.
Tampa introduced e-scooters in 2019 as part of a pilot program and uses several companies. Locals, tourists and workers zipping by on scooters at up to 15 mph have become a common sight in and around downtown.
The city is working with with scooter companies and residents to address complaints including scooters left in the middle of sidewalks, said city spokesperson Adam Smith. But the program overall has been successful in areas including reducing car trips, he said.
St. Petersburg debuted its own pilot program last fall. Scooters are not allowed on sidewalks in St. Petersburg. A city spokesperson said they have seen no scooter-related lawsuits.