Here's the scenario. I was recently walking with my six-year-old on one of San Francisco's popular pedestrian streets. At some point, a teen-aged man rode by on a rented (or stolen) electric scooter at, by my estimate, 40 mi/h -- a speed that would very likely cause serious injury to the child, should they have collided. In fact, they nearly did.

I would like to send a letter to the City of S.F. compelling them that in case they, or any 3rd party, like Lime, are sued for personal injury in a similar situation, the plaintiff be notified of my willingness to testify on their behalf. Is there a legal procedure for me to follow in this case?

By my thinking, such a lawsuit would allege the City's negligence in allowing this type of motorized vehicle on pedestrian sidewalks (they are, in San Francisco). To allege negligence, I understand, a trail of warnings and near misses would need to be established, so my letter would serve the dual purpose of serving as such warning and, if possible, compel them do do something about it, like connect the plaintiff with me, should the plaintiff be interested in such a connection.

Thanks in advance!

  • What exactly would you be testifying? That they are capable of those speeds? Or are you wanting to testify against the specific driver of that scooter?
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 4 '20 at 23:11
  • Fair question. I added the response to the question. Jul 4 '20 at 23:32

I doubt there is a mechanism to do exactly what you are asking for.

However, if

  1. You report the hazard to the city (e.g., write an email to someone who works for the city); and
  2. The city retains your report

then anyone can FOIA your report and litigants can "discover" your email. Whether they do or not is up to them. I don't think the city is obligated to proactively tell them.

I really do not know if the city is obligated to retain records but it should be clear they can not just dump records to avoid a FOIA or discovery request.

  • Thanks. I think that's exactly the question: how to make sure that the city retains the report. Jul 5 '20 at 16:55
  • @IgorUrisman I doubt there is a way to force the city to retain the report other than adherence to its own records retention policy (if it has one). For example, if policy is to save emails for one year then I do not see how you can "force" the city to retain the email longer than that. I suppose if it is important to you then you could just resend the email every year.
    – emory
    Jul 5 '20 at 19:54

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