Former Adelaide politician gets second chance to sue council after tripping over e-scooter

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A former Labor minister who admits he saw a Beam e-scooter on the footpath before tripping over it in the daytime last year has been given a second chance to sue the Adelaide City Council for damages.

Kym Mayes claimed his left foot “snagged” on an electric scooter laying on its side as he walked along Gouger Street, in Adelaide’s CBD, on September 20 — a mild spring day — last year.

Mr Mayes served as a minister in various SA government portfolios from 1985 to 1993.

He told Magistrate Simon Milazzo earlier this year that landed on his right knee, right elbow and left hand, causing damages and loss.

The magistrate dismissed Mr Mayes’ claim for $2,375 in damages, noting that people sometimes walk into poles or trip on gutters and that was not the council’s fault, either.

But a District Court judge has this month overturned the decision, returning it to a different magistrate but acknowledging it “may well fail” a second time.

Man saw e-scooter, but still tripped on it

Mr Mayes’ argument before the first magistrate was that the council had a duty to keep its footpaths free of hazards, just as supermarkets must keep aisles free of spillages.

He admitted that he saw the e-scooter on the ground before tripping on it.

But he said the council had a licence agreement with Beam, requiring it to store its electric scooters safely, and that had not occurred.

The council argued the fallen electric scooter was an “obvious” hazard, while Beam, also named as a defendant, argued it was entirely Mr Mayes’ fault because he was rushing to catch a tram at the time.

Magistrate Milazzo dismissed the case and warned that Mr Mayes risked incurring “a whole lot of costs” if he persisted with the minor damages claim.

But persist he did, asking the District Court to review the case.

Claim ‘may fail’, but will be heard again

In her judgment this month, Judge Jane Schammer acknowledged that there were significant hurdles to Mr Mayes’ claim succeeding.

“As Mr Mayes saw the scooter, he faces a significant challenge in establishing a breach of any duty of care” by either the council or Beam, the judgment says.

“Mr Mayes’ action against the council may well fail.”

Nonetheless, Judge Schammer found “procedural defects” in the way the magistrate handled the case.

She ruled that he should have reviewed CCTV of the incident and considered affidavits and evidence before deciding the claim had “no reasonable basis”.

She returned the claim to the Magistrates Court, where it will be heard again by a different magistrate.

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