Scooter Companies File Suit Alleging Unlawful Taking
Two San Diego men have formed a fledgling business on the heels of the current scooter craze. John Heinkel and Dan Borelli have formed a company called ScootScoop, which patrols the city streets in San Diego and other Southern California cities, using a flatbed truck to “impound” and tow away electric scooters they allege have been abandoned near hotels or on private property. According to Heinkel and Borelli, in a little over a year in business, they have “impounded” nearly 13,000 vehicles, writing a parking ticket for every scooter they seize. The men say they have offered to return the vehicles to the manufacturers—most of the impounded vehicles are from Bird and Lime, the top two players on the industry. Thus far, however, the scooter companies have declined to pay the return fee of $50 per vehicle.
Instead, Bird and Lime have filed a lawsuit in state court in California, alleging that ScootScoop has illegally taken the vehicles, calling the return fee a “ransom.” The companies claim that ScootScoop has frequently seized scooter that were “responsibly parked,” calling the business “a property theft scheme to generate income.” ScootScoop counters that California law allows for the impoundment of vehicles improperly parked on private property. Heinkel and Borelli say that, if the companies continue to refuse to pay the return fee, the scooters will be sold at a public auction.
Under a new law enacted earlier this year, San Diego now requires that electric scooters in the downtown area be parked only in certain areas designated as “corrals.” The owners of ScootScoop insist that they only impound scooters that have been parked in violation of state and city laws.
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