What's the case?
Portland Uber driver Joshua Redmond wants $10,000 in damages from scooter company Skip after two riders smashed a scooter into his Subaru and fled the scene. On Nov. 2, he sent a formal demand letter to the San Francisco-based company. It's the first legal notice in Portland sent to a scooter operator.
At 10:30 pm on Oct. 2, Redmond was driving his Subaru Impreza through an intersection near Portland State University. Two helmetless riders on one Skip scooter ran a red light and hit the left rear passenger door of his car. Redmond, who drives for the ride-hailing company Uber, calls it his "money-making door" because that's where the customers get in.
When he asked for the duo's information, they hopped over a hedge and ran away.
Redmond flagged down a nearby campus police officer. The officer examined the Subaru. "I also saw that there were two smudges on the passenger window, one smudge looked to be a handprint and the other smudge had the distinct outline of a woman's face," the officer wrote. "Upon closer inspection, I also saw a blond hair that was stuck to the window."
Redmond says the damaged door will need to be replaced. He says a Skip representative told the investigating officer the company couldn't locate any scooters rented at the time and place of the crash and that sometimes people jump-start rides if the back wheel doesn't lock properly.
Why does it matter?
Redmond's attorney, Michael Fuller, argues Skip demonstrated negligence by failing to educate riders, to "adequately screen riders to make sure they had the ability and intent to accept financial responsibility for any harm caused as a result of a crash," and to inform police who had rented the scooter that hit Redmond.
Plenty of car drivers cause far worse damage to other vehicles in Portland. But this legal demand—an Uber driver seeking cash from a scooter rental company—is unprecedented in the city, and doesn't bode well for Skip's image. From the time of its founding, Skip has billed itself as "the responsible scooter company." (It even pulled some scooters off the street last week after heavy rains.) And, with less than two weeks until the end of Portland's scooter pilot program, the suit raises questions about whether the city is adequately policing the startups.
"I don't want to see e-scooters disappear," Fuller says. "But these scooter companies that are making millions need to be held accountable, just like anybody else."