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Look Named in Product Liability Case

Published January 20, 2010

COLUMBIA, SC (BRAIN)—A product liability lawsuit filed last summer against Look Cycles has been moved from a county court in South Carolina to U.S. District Court, where it is scheduled for jury trial late this year.

Johannis Van Eldik sued Look Cycles, NTN Bearing Corporation and Veltec Sports for negligence last August, alleging that his Look PP396 road pedal failed while he was riding his bicycle on Aug. 26, 2006.

On that date, Van Eldik told the court he pressed down with his foot and leg on his Look pedal as he accelerated the bike. The pedal and accompanying parts “suddenly and without warning” broke causing Van Eldik’s right foot and leg to crash into the pavement. Van Eldik said he sustained serious injuries in the wreck including a right hip injury, right leg and knee injury, loss of mobility and function in his lower extremities, back spasms and a femur fractured that required surgery, physical therapy and an extended hospital stay.

He is accusing Look and/or Veltec—Look’s U.S. distributor at the time—of negligently designing, developing, testing, manufacturing, assembling, inspecting, promoting, advertising, marketing and distributing the pedal, as well as failing to adequately warn Van Eldik of the dangerous properties and design of the pedal, and the safe and proper methods of its use.

Van Eldik accuses NTN of essentially the same negligence with its bearing that’s used in the pedal. NTN has denied the allegations leveled by Van Eldik.

Thierry Fournier, Look Cycle’s chief executive officer, said he had not been yet been notified of the lawsuit and could not comment specifically on pending litigation.

However, Fournier spoke to the company’s experience with lawsuits and the chain of responsibility and money pulled by plaintiff lawyers.

He cited a case a couple years back when an amateur rider was hit by a car while riding in Chicago. The driver was not well insured so the plaintiff attorney sued the bicycle manufacturer, the shoemaker and Look, the pedal supplier.

“The trial was long, but fair and the jury released us of all charges without having to pay anything but hundreds of dollars of legal fees,” Fournier said. “The way these cases are handled, it is sure that anyone in the distribution chain can become a defendant.”

If the case proceeds to jury trial, it would be scheduled after November.

—Nicole Formosa

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