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Rad Power Bikes faces wrongful-death suit

Published August 2, 2022
Giro Sport Design also included as the parents of a 12-year-old girl who died from injuries in an e-bike crash say the e-bike brand markets to children without adequate warnings.

LOS ANGELES (BRAIN) — The parents of a 12-year-old girl who later died from injuries suffered while riding as a passenger on a Rad Power Bike in 2021 filed a wrongful death suit Monday against the Seattle brand and helmet-maker Giro Sport Design.

The lawsuit filed in L.A. Superior Court by parents Jonathan and Kaye Steinsapir asks for a jury trial that will determine damages, and says Rad Power markets its e-bikes to children without adequate warnings. In addition, design defects on the RadRunner e-bike that their daughter Molly Steinsapir was a passenger on contributed to the accident and her death, according to the suit.

"The entire Rad Power Bikes team extends its deepest condolences to the Steinsapir family on the tragic loss of Molly Steinsapir," Rad Power said in a statement to BRAIN. "We are aware of the lawsuit that the family has filed. Rad Power Bikes does not comment on pending litigation, including this case, and therefore has no comment on the allegations in their complaint or the underlying accident."

Giro is named in the suit because the Steinsapirs say the helmet Molly was wearing was defective. The suit says the helmet was supposed to absorb the crash impact, but it cracked and did not protect her from the brain injury that ultimately killed her.

Vista Outdoor, which owns Giro Sport Design, did not return a request to comment.

On Jan. 31, 2021, Molly was riding behind her 11-year-old best friend who was operating the RadRunner e-bike, which can accomodate a passenger. While descending a steep hill — which the lawsuit says the two girls would not have been able to ascend on a traditional bike — the e-bike began to "shake and wobble, causing the bike to crash."

The friend had cuts and abrasions, but Molly was unconscious and taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. After several brain surgeries, she never regained consciousness and died on Feb. 15.

The lawsuit cites Rad Power Bikes' positive website reviews from adults who have written about buying Rad e-Bikes for their children. The suit also says the RadRunner operating manual states the model is for use by those 18 and over. "But this caution occurs in small print on Page 49 of a 57-page manual." The suit goes on to say Rad Power doesn't do anything else to warn customers about the risk to kids riding its bikes.

Design defects, the lawsuit alleges, include using disc brakes in conjunction with quick-release skewers, which it states can loosen during hard braking and cause the wheel to wobble and shake. "Even a single hard brake can cause this to happen, and it did happen here," according to the lawsuit. "Molly's friend was likely unable to stop the bike and lost control of the bike, because her hard pull on the front brake caused the wheel's quick release mechanism to unthread, loosening the wheel."

Another defect in the original RadRunner, according to the lawsuit, was its low trail number, the horizontal distance from where the front wheel touches the ground to where the steering axis intersects the ground. The lawsuit states the RadRunner's trail number was unusually low for road use and made the bike unstable at high speeds. The lawsuit did not reveal the number. The suit notes the RadRunner 2 model increased the trail number.

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

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