Family files lawsuit against City of Pittsburgh, scooter rental company after death of local man

PITTSBURGH — The family of a man they claim died from injuries he suffered during an accident while riding an electric rental scooter has filed a civil lawsuit against Spin, the scooter rental company, and the City of Pittsburgh.

The lawsuit also names Segway, the manufacturer of the electric scooter, as a defendant.

RELATED >>> Spin scooters to leave Pittsburgh streets as city’s pilot program ends

The suit contends that all three were negligent and reckless and that their actions contributed to one fatality and at least two other serious injuries.

“He lived intentionally.  He made every day count,” said Katelyn Chertik during an interview with Channel 11′s Nicole Ford last May.

The attorney hired by the Chertik family declined comment on the lawsuit and he said the family would not comment on it either.

Chertik’s older brother, Larry, 35, died in February of this year after hitting a pothole on his rental scooter and according to the lawsuit, lacerating his spleen.

Katelyn Chertik said in May that she partially blames the road conditions in the city of Pittsburgh.

“I feel the city partially failed us, we are a drinking city, a football city, and a pothole city, and you say, ‘Hey, have fun with these scooters,” said Katelyn Chertik.

The suit, which also identifies two other individuals, who allegedly suffered serious injuries in scooter accidents, claims that the scooters were defective and not designed for use in the dark and on “potholed, or cracked pavement riddled streets.”

The suit also contends there were no warnings about the dangers of riding the electric scooters at night.

And it said an upgraded model with improved lighting was never introduced in Pittsburgh.

A spokesperson for the scooter rental company declined to comment on the lawsuit.

While the suit contends there were no warnings, we did find some detailed safety videos posted to the spin website, but is that enough?

“Products liability cases in general are extremely difficult and extremely costly,” said WPXI Legal Analyst Phil Dilucente.

We asked DiLucente to review the complaint. He said the lawsuit raises some important questions about product liability and warnings.

“Is it dangerous in the condition it’s in and did you have a duty if it is, to warn?  So, if you skydiving, things like this, is there a warning or a release,” said DiLucente.

In July, the city paused the scooter rental program after a two-year trial run.

It has received mixed reviews, and it’s unclear if it will be reinstated, even though the city has said it’s working with lawmakers in an effort to restart the program.

While some residents praised it for providing a cheaper, alternative mode of transportation, others have complained that scooters are left blocking sidewalks and driveways.

Whatever happens with the rental program, Larry Chertik’s sister wants people to know about the risks and dangers she says are associated with the scooters.

“If roles were reversed and it was me or my little brother or his niece or any of his friends, I think Larry would be speaking out just so somebody else’s family doesn’t have to lose a child, a sibling, an aunt, or uncle just making people aware.  Obviously, it’s impossible to stop everyone from getting on them but if I can help people think twice about getting on one, that’s what I’m going to do,” said Katelyn Chertik.

Segway declined to comment, saying their attorney would be handling the case.

We reached out to the city of Pittsburgh and they did not respond.  They have said in the past that they don’t comment on pending legal action.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW