Segway shop balances multiple lawsuits

The next stop on a Segway tour of Richmond might be the city courthouse. A Shockoe Slip Segway dealer has been sued three times since January – including twice in the past few weeks – by customers who claim that they were injured while riding the unorthodox vehicles on tours of Richmond.

This story first appeared on, Richmond’s leading source for business news.

The next stop on a Segway tour of Richmond might be the city courthouse.

A Shockoe Slip Segway dealer has been sued three times since January – including twice in the past few weeks – by customers who claim that they were injured while riding the unorthodox vehicles on tours of Richmond.

Buck Ward, the owner of Segway of Richmond, said his company has liability insurance to help protect against claims and lawsuits, but that coverage doesn’t come cheap.

“It is both difficult to get and very expensive for a small business like ours,” he said in an email to BizSense.

And regardless of the outcome, fighting three suits at once is a major headache.

“It is very difficult and very expensive,” Ward said.

The suits, all of which were filed in Richmond Circuit Court, describe alleged instances of the Segways lunging or lurching despite the riders’ attempts to control them. The incidents, which all occurred in 2009, resulted in alleged injuries and related hardships to the tune of a combined $6 million.

Plaintiffs Jenny Honeycutt, Jeffury Whitt and Marge Pritchett each say that Segway of Richmond was negligent and reckless for allegedly not training the riders on how to handle the vehicles under certain conditions.

Each of the plaintiffs is also suing Segway Inc., the New Hampshire-based manufacturer of the vehicles.

The suits hinge on a common allegation that there are inherent, known glitches in the vehicles that can cause accidents.

“As Segway manufactured more and more product units, it amassed a database of accidents and incidents related specifically to software and battery malfunctions,” the suit filed by Jenny Honeycutt claims.

“Segway nonetheless continued to manufacture product units with little or no changes to either the vehicle software or battery specifications that would enhance a rider’s ability to control the Segway and would prevent abrupt and unexpected starts and stops.”

The suits contain similar language.

Honeycutt is represented by Thomas Stokes of Brenner, Evans and Millman

The other two plaintiffs are represented by James Thorsen of Marchant, Thorsen, Honey, Baldwin and Meyer.

Mike Ward, an attorney with Morris & Morris who is representing Segway Inc., would not comment on the suits.

Buck Ward said he couldn’t comment on the specific cases. But Ward, who responded only to emails, said safety is a priority.

“There is nothing more important to Segway of Richmond and its employees than our customers’ safety,” he said.

Since Ward opened Segway of Richmond in 2008, the company has given tours to more than 12,000 people without any injury or incident, he said.

“Over the past three years since opening, we have had solid, substantial growth year over year which we think reflects the care and attention our company and our guides place on our customers’ safety and in creating a fun and memorable experience,” Ward said.

Ward said customers who ride the gyroscopic vehicles sign waivers and releases of liability and are required to wear helmets. He also said riders are given the chance to ask questions about using the vehicles and about the risk of potential injury.

The suits, however, question the shop’s pre-ride regimen. Honeycutt’s suit claims the session did not include specific training for riding on “different texture surfaces, or going up or going down hills, ramps or inclines or for maneuvers in case of an emergency or malfunction.”

Segway Inc. and Segway of Richmond have denied the allegations in the Pritchett case, the oldest of three suits. They have not responded to the others.

Michael Schwartz is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to

Photo by: John Murden

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  1. Scott Burger on said:

    Good luck to Buck in fighting off the lawsuits.

  2. Moon Unit on said:

    Good luck to those bringing the suit in getting what’s theirs from this negligent business owner.

  3. 6 million in injuries from falling off of something 6” above the ground? I’m sorry, sounds like nonsense. Typical “lawsuit as lottery ticket” which is killing this country

  4. It’s sad that a small business owner, trying to promote out city, has to deal with these unethical children using the “lawsuit as a lottery ticket”. Good luck Segway of Richmond, don’t let these children looking for a handout take you down!

  5. Brodie Rich on said:

    Sounds like some ambulance chasing going on. I went on a tour and fell off once or twice, mainly because my own negligence, not due to the Segway. Like any device that “transports” an individual, you are riding at your own risk. Good luck with the lawsuit, I hope they get nothing.

  6. Negligent lawsuits… I love Segway of Richmond, and I hope they counter sue for abuse of the legal system.

  7. Wouldn’t riding a Segway be like riding a bike for the 1st time, in the sense that if you fall off a bike (and you will), you’re not going to sue the bike manufacture. Same thing goes for things like skates, skateboards, scooters, mopeds…if you fall, it’s normally your fault, not the company that made the piece of equipment.

    I agree $6m is a ridiculous amount for injuries of 3 people.

  8. Kevin on said:

    Another example of the effects of the selfish, money-grabbing, oversupply of attorneys, many of whom have one goal in mind….class-action lawsuits with huge returns. Where did the concept of signing a release at the beginning of a ride on a 2 wheeled balancing machine become invalid, and allow the plethora of attorneys to prey on well-intentioned organizations to show people things like our Richmond. I hope this good company isn’t forced out of business.

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