A former UC Berkeley student filed a lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents on Friday after allegedly being thrown off the backseat of a golf cart while riding the Loop.
The Loop is a UC Berkeley golf cart service that provides rides for faculty, staff and students with disabilities across campus. During the time of the incident, plaintiff Alana Banks, who goes by AB, was temporarily disabled with a torn meniscus that required knee surgery.
“The Loop is a very beautiful program — when I had my knee injury, it helped me get around campus,” AB said. “I just think the university does not give the Loop enough help. There should not be golf carts without seat belts on the back.”
AB alleged that on March 31, 2015, during a ride across campus toward the Valley Life Sciences Building, their Loop driver parked the golf cart uphill. When the driver took off the brakes, the cart allegedly began sliding downhill, prompting the driver to panic and hit the gas.
The suit alleged that the acceleration caused AB to fall off the cart and land on the concrete. AB was sitting in the cart’s backseat with no seat belts, according to the complaint.
AB allegedly suffered a dislocated shoulder and sprained neck from the incident.
AB is currently in negotiation with the insurance company for the university regarding the complaint, according to their attorney Carter Zinn. Zinn noted that the delay in filing the case was due to the plaintiff needing to see if their injuries were resolved and what type of treatment they needed.
Sarah Funes, co-chair of Berkeley Disabled Students, said the Loop is dysfunctional and described it as an example of a systemic problem that students with disabilities face on campus.
“We are an afterthought,” Funes said. “There is no forethought for how decisions on this campus affect disabled students.”
Funes said she thinks seat belts should be added to every Loop golf cart and suggested that UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation implement measures to better hold drivers accountable for their performance.
The UC Office of the President could not be reached for comment. UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore declined to comment on the pending litigation.
“The university needs to be more sensitive or figure out a way that people with injuries can still feel supported in their school work,” AB said.