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San Diego County, CA

In this action for strict products liability, the plaintiff argued that faulty manufacturing proximately caused her significant bodily injuries. The defense denied the allegations, arguing instead that the plaintiff’s own negligence was a significant contributing factor to the accident at issue.

On September 6, ________, the plaintiff was riding with her bicycle group when the cyclist in front of her - R.V. – fell due to the failure of the front fork of his bicycle. Unable to avoid him, the plaintiff crashed and suffered multiple injuries to her face, shoulders, knees and spine. The fork that failed was a LiteTEC HP Titanium Enhanced carbon fiber front fork that was developed by defendant, American Bicycle Group, LLC (American Bicycle), manufactured by Martec Industrial Corporation (Martec) and sold by the retailer Nytro Multisport Technology, Inc. (Nytro).

The plaintiff’s Complaint contained causes of action against R.V., American Bicycle, Martec and Nytro for strict products liability, manufacturing defect and design defect, negligence and breach of warranties. However, R.V. was dismissed from the case through a successful Motion for Summary Judgment based on the primary assumption of risk doctrine and both Martec and Nytro agreed to a pre-trial settlement. As a result, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the causes of action for negligence and breach of warranties and the case went to trial against American Bicycle solely on the theory of strict products liability, with claims for both manufacturing defect and design defect.

The plaintiff sought to recover $________; representing all losses she suffered as a result of the accident, including past and future medical expenses, loss of past and future income and damages for her pain and suffering. Specifically, the plaintiff sustained a head injury, including potential loss of consciousness; multiple abrasions and facial lacerations and a thoracic spine fracture at T7. She was transported via ambulance and admitted to the hospital for four days. Beyond facial disfigurement and the back injury, the plaintiff claimed to have sustained minor traumatic brain injury which resulted in post-concussive syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The plaintiff underwent surgery to repair her facial lacerations. Following discharge, she had residual scarring and asphalt tattooing on her chin, left eye, and left cheek. She has depigmentation to her left cheek, left shoulder and scarring on both knees. It was not disputed that she could benefit from further reconstructive surgery to minimize the appearance of the facial scarring and tattooing.

Due to her back injury, Ms. Brown was unable to return to work for two weeks. She then returned full-time with four weeks of modified duty with lifting restrictions. She then returned to work without restriction, but claimed an inability to perform overtime. She also claimed an inability to work around the home.

At trial, the plaintiff argued that the front fork on R.V.’s bicycle was negligently and defectively designed, manufactured and marketed. In so arguing, her experts suggested that the radius of the trailing edge of the fork was too tight to allow for proper manufacturing, which resulted in unavoidable manufacturing defects. Thus, the plaintiff contended that a manufacturing defect in the right leg of the fork compromised its integrity and proximately caused the accident.

The defense denied liability, contending not only that the fork was not defective but also that the plaintiff’s own negligence cause the accident due to her “drafting” R.V. – which she had admitted to in her police statement. In support of their position, defense experts argued that the fork failed due to debris strike to the rear of the left fork leg and explained how such a strike could compromise the part’s integrity. In addition, the defense disputed the nature and extent of Ms. Brown’s damages.Ultimately, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff on the existence of a manufacturing defect, but also concluded that it was not a substantial factor in causing her injuries, resulting in a defense verdict.

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