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Man files lawsuit against Rad Power Bikes over front wheel disengaging

Published September 18, 2023
Plaintiff's counsel: 'Rad Power Bikes put profit over the safety of its riders.'

SEATTLE (BRAIN) — A Maryland man filed a class-action lawsuit against Rad Power Bikes on behalf of himself and other consumers for manufacturing a faulty fork and quick-release skewer design that combined with the weight of the bike can allow the wheel to disengage.

According to the suit, Gary E. Mason, a resident of Bethesda, purchased a RadRunner e-bike in March 2021 from the brand's website. On May 31, 2022, Mason was riding the bike to the grocery store when he braked to avoid a turning car. Mason was thrown over the handlebars "and saw the front wheel flying through the air."

Mason landed on his back and suffered five broken ribs and a broken clavicle. He spent two nights in the trauma ward at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Bethesda and spent six weeks in rehabilitation and physical therapy.

The FeganScott firm issued a news release after filing the suit Friday, with Managing Partner Elizabeth Fegan saying Rad Power Bikes has ignored the alleged defective design for years.

"As e-bikes grew in popularity, Rad Power Bikes put profit over the safety of its riders, marketing e-bikes as a 'safe, family-friendly' mode of transportation," Fegan said. "For our lead plaintiff, what should've been a routine ride to the grocery story ended at the hospital, where he was treated for five broken ribs and a broken clavicle following a crash on his e-bike after the loss of its front wheel."

Mason seeks a jury trial and "repair, replacement, and/or refund; extended warranty; injunctive relief resolving — and appropriate curative notice regarding — the existence and cause of the defective e-bikes; reimbursement of all expenses associated with the repair or replacement of the e-bikes and damage caused by the Rad e-bikes; and reimbursement of attorney fees and expenses."

FeganScott filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Rad Power Bikes Inc. and Rad Power Bikes LLC. It also cites complaints on internet rating and discussion websites like Reddit about other consumers' "similar horror stories of Rad e-bike wheels flying off and causing crashes."

A Rad Power Bikes spokesperson told BRAIN on Monday it does not comment on pending litigation.

Also alleged is Rad Power Bikes markets e-bikes as family friendly transportation despite its defects, using print advertising depicting children as passengers and "young riders" as operators, even though the brand states on its website that riders need to be at least 16-year-old to operate. Cited was the current lawsuit involving Molly Steinsapir, a 12-year-old girl who died from injuries when the Rad Power e-bike she was a passenger on began wobbling out of control going down a hill. Her parents, Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir, filed their suit against Rad Power a little over a year ago.

Mason's suit describes how Rad Power's website claims the disc brake-quick-release skewer combination makes it easier to remove the wheels for transportation, but argues because of the bike's weight (77 pounds), it's unlikely wheels will be removed by consumers to do so.

A 2015 CPSC recall was cited in the suit about bikes spec'd with quick-release skewers on front disc brake bikes. "The hazard was described as "[a]n open quick release lever on the bicycle's front wheel hub can come into contact with the front disc brake rotor, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of injury to the rider."

It added that since the recall, more than 2.5 million bikes in the U.S. have been included, saying, "The solution to the 2015 disc brakes recall, which was generally adopted by the biking industry, required manufacturers to provide a replacement quick-release skewer with a release lever greater than 180 degrees.

"Despite knowing about the longstanding industry-wide consensus that disc brakes in conjunction with quick-release skewers are dangerous, (the) defendants continue to design, manufacture, and sell e-bikes that include this hazardous design."

The release noted that Rad Power Bikes, founded in 2007, has grown at a rapid rate since being founded in 2007, reaching a ridership of more than 500,000 by 2022.

"Rad has touted it has an e-bike model for everyone, including outdoor adventurers, city commuters, and even families, all while knowing that these products could cause major accidents that result in serious injury," Fegan said. "Through this suit, we intend to hold Rad accountable for blatantly ignoring its responsibility to protect its consumers, putting their lives, and the lives of others, at risk."

FeganScott is a national class-action law firm specializing in consumer fraud, sexual abuse, and discrimination.

In addition to the Steinsapir case, Rad Power Bikes has faced other lawsuits. Last week, a trial date was established in another man's lawsuit claiming general negligence, product liability, and breach of warranty against Rad Power Bikes after the case management conference was canceled. The case is set for trial on June 24, 2024, in Superior Court of California County. On Friday, Rad Power Bikes filed an objection to the notice of time and place of the trial and trial order and requested it be held on Oct. 7, 2024. A hearing with Judge Anne-Christine Massullo will occur Wednesday.

Anthony Reyna filed the suit on April 20, claiming his Rad Runner Plus e-bike caused him to fall and sustain injuries and property damage. According to the suit, Reyna was riding the e-bike "in the manner it was intended" when "suddenly and without warning the electric bicycle came to an abrupt stop due to a default in its construction and/or manufacturing. This sudden and abrupt stop caused (the) plaintiff to fly off the electronic bicycle onto the ground where (he) sustained serious injury to (his) person and property."

On Oct. 4, 2022, State Farm filed a lawsuit on behalf of an insured homeowner client after his Rad Power e-bike caught fire at his home in Wycombe, Pennsylvania. The suit was later amended to include that the TD HiTech Energy battery pack and charger malfunctioned and caused the fire. Also included in the complaint is Fritz Jou Manufacturing, an OEM bike assembler. According to the lawsuit, damages were in excess of $250,000 to property and automobiles.

In January, Rad Power Bikes CEO Phil Molyneux said in an email to customers that the company has made mistakes and will learn from them, writing, “This begins with a laser focus on safety and reliability. From the design phase, through component validation methods, to the ever-improving quality assurance activities within our factories, we are doubling down to ensure safer, more enjoyable rides."

Topics associated with this article: Lawsuits/legal, Electric bike

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