US jury finds for Wal-mart and Dynacraft in QR suit

Kid faceplants were due to rider- and parent-error, not faulty quick release mechanisms, said the 12 jurors in an eight-week Marin Country trial that, had it gone the other way, could have sent shock waves through the global bike industry, similar to the 'lawyers' lips' panic of the mid-1990s.
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The 11 to 1 decision was reached yesterday.

Nine sets of parents had filed suit against Wal-mart, bike importer Dynacraft and an insurance adjustment company. The parents publicised their case with the 'blood on their hands' SHOK website: Wal-mart Stop Hurting Our Kids.

The jury, however, found against the parents and their attorney, Mark Webb. None of the parents won any damages although one set of parents reached a "confidential settlement" with Wal-mart and Dynacraft.

"It is unfortunate when anyone is hurt in a bike accident, but these allegations simply had no merit," said Wal-mart spokeswoman, Sarah Clark.

"We are pleased that this jury overwhelmingly agreed that every allegation in this case was unsubstantiated and reinforced that these bikes were safe and not defective."

Jury forewoman Janice Perez Ross told Associated Press that most of the jurors - but not her - concluded that parents had the responsibility to read the bicycle manual that's supposed to be supplied with every bicycle sold, request one if it was not provided to them by the retailer, and make proper checks on bicycle wheels attached with QRs.

Wal-mart had hired a high-profile law team, including the renowned Joe B. Harrison, a Dallas 'super lawyer'. In his closing argument, he had told the jury: "Theories are a dime a dozen. Where's the proof? Where's the data?"

Dynacraft's attorney, Fletcher Alford, said "there was no science supporting the plaintiffs' case."

QRs have been in widespread use since their invention in 1930 by the founder of Campagnolo.

In a separate issue concerning QRs, Japan-based climate research scientist James Annan has been waging an internet war for two years telling all who will listen that bikes equipped with powerful disc-brakes can eject wheels held on with quick releases.

As an unacknowledged nod to the accuracy of Annan's claims, at least one big fork company now produces most of its forks with forward-angled drop-outs and many high-end MTB companies use thru-axles rather than QRs.

Want to know more about this ongoing story? Type 'Annan' into the BikeBiz.com search engine. Kofi anyone?

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