China's first litigation against a bike-sharing company over an accident involving a child under 12 held a pretrial evidence-exchange hearing at Shanghai Jing'an district court on Friday, during which Ofo has denied responsibility and refused the plaintiffs' claims, reports thepaper.cn.
The plaintiffs, parents of the boy who was killed, are demanding Ofo to pay a civil compensation of 7.61 million yuan (over US $1.17 million) and that the company replace mechanical locks with smart locks on all of its bikes.
Their son died after the 11-year-old was hit by a bus while racing his friends on the wrong side of the road in Shanghai on March 26 of this year.
Relevant Chinese laws and regulations forbid minors under 12 from riding bikes and tricycles on roads, but the victim's parents said Ofo had failed to update their equipment and block underage users.
Older models operated by the company have mechanical locks, which require a four-digit combination, "but some users forget to scramble the combination when they finish their journey, meaning the bikes can be ridden for free", said Zhang Qianlin, the plaintiffs' attorney and senior partner at DeBund Law Offices in Shanghai, in a statement last month.
"Even if the lock is scrambled, techniques to unlock the bikes are widely circulated online and can be easily mastered by children," he added.
The couple is pushing for Ofo to shoulder major responsibility for their son's death.
Ofo, however, denied its responsibility, declaring that the bike which the 11-year-old rode was in good condition, and the boy was literally racing the bike on the wrong side of the road when the accident occurred, according to local traffic authorities.
The company claimed to have fulfilled its obligation of warning those under 12 not to use their bikes during various occasions, including the user's inscription and product promotion process.
Ofo also asserts the victim unlocked and rode their bike in an "informal way."
The bike-sharing giant considers the demand of installing smart locks beyond the scope of a civil action, and it has no direct interest with the plaintiff.
The case is scheduled to be heard soon.
Other defendants in the case include the bus driver, Shanghai Hongmao Auto Rental, which owns the vehicle and an insurance company.