According to the Monterey Herald newspaper, the "bicycle defect case" began today.
A suit against Wal-Mart and San Rafael-based Dynacraft claims the companies conspired to hide defects in a "key bicycle part" even after injuries were reported.
The parents of a number of boys injured after falling from their Chinese-made Dynacraft bicycles claim the front wheels QRs "part malfunctioned", causing crashes and injuries.
"Consumers in America deserve to be able to rely on the safety of products they buy for their children," said Mark Webb, a San Francisco lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
All of this is eerily similar to the 'QR not done up properly' issue which impacted on the specialist bicycle trade in the 1990s with some high-profile compensation payouts. Owner manuals were improved, bike stickers created and 'lawyer's lips' retention bumps added to front forks.
In 2003, Bob Burns, Trek's US-based General Counsel, told BikeBiz.com:
"Virtually all 'defective quick release' claims that I have seen relate to an improperly used quick release. Either the consumer has ridden with the QR open; ridden with the QR closed like a wing nut (rather than closing it over the cam); or ridden with insufficient tightness to the adjusting nut to engage the cam. You can generally determine this by examining the dropout surfaces, which will show the marks left behind as a consequence of the loose clamp force.
"We take great pains in our owner's manual to explain how to use a QR, as do most good cycling books."
In the current court case, Wal-Mart is using the 'owner error' defence.
Wal-Mart spokesman Marty Heires said the bicycles in question were safe to ride safe as long as they were "properly used," adding that the QRs had never been the subject of a recall.
"Our view of the facts is substantially different from the plaintiffs'," said Heires.
To drum up support for its court case, the parents of the injured children created an anti-Wal-Mart website earlier this year.
The 'stop hurting our kids' SHOK website uses graphic images of the injured children and cites Wal-Mart as the culprit.
The website said Wal-Mart was being sued for "civil conspiracy, fraud, product liability, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence and conscious disregard to safety and breach of warranty."