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Class action would target makers of helmets lacking MIPS or WaveCel

Published July 31, 2019

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (BRAIN) — A Knoxville lawfirm is investigating a potential class-action lawsuit against companies that sell bike helmets lacking new anti-concussion technology like MIPS. 

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Greg Coleman Law is advertising on TopClassActions.com, trying to find people who have suffered head injuries while using helmets lacking the new technologies. The potential lawsuit was first reported by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Insitute in its Helmet Update email newsletter. 

MIPS and similar technology promise to reduce the likelihood of brain injury from angular impacts. The legal advertisement notes that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require helmets to use technology like MIPS. The CPSC's standard doesn't specifically measure a helmet's ability to reduce the chance of concussion from low speed and angular impacts. Yet, the ad notes, Virginia Tech has recently conducted independent testing that finds the technology effective.

"As newer technologies are developed that have been proven to be safer and provide better protection against head injuries for cyclists, companies should also be updating their products to provide the ultimate safety for their customers," the ad reads. "If you purchased a bike helmet in the last couple of years that you believe did not offer the injury protection you expected, you may qualify to join this bicycle helmet safety class action lawsuit investigation."

The ad mentions MIPS, which a Swedish company licenses to a multitude of brands, and WaveCel, Trek Bicycle's exclusive new helmet liner material.

Helmets with MIPS and WaveCel have performed well in Virginia Tech's studies. The ad doesn't mention other technologies that make similar claims, like Louis Garneau's Rotexx, POC's Spin, and 6D's ODS.

The ad includes a form for members of the public to fill out to see if they could participate in the class action investigation.

The BHSI newsletter said, "Whether or not the lawsuit is ever filed, it points the way for plaintiff's attorneys to attack manufacturers in the future when a cyclist is injured in a helmet," the newsletter read.

"The defense will try to prove that the manufacturer's product met all applicable safety standards, and there is no consensus in the industry or injury prevention community that the Virginia Tech ratings are valid, so no current standards use the Virginia Tech tests or call out the performance that results in a five star helmet in their ratings," it continued.

BHSI's director, Randy Swart, told BRAIN, "I would hate to see the lawyers take advantage of this situation, but it may push ASTM and CPSC to add rotational energy management testing and low impact testing to our standard."

MIPS recently reported first half revenues of $13.5 million, a 61% increase over the same period last year. Last year, MIPS was used by 78 helmet brands on 448 helmet models. 

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