REI shirks responsibility & appeals Monika Johnson case

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reddirt

climber
PNW
Topic Author's Original Post - May 19, 2011 - 12:10pm PT
http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=20872.0

scroll down for pictures.

FYI note the dedication of the website. Monika has since died in an unrelated incident (unless you consider how the fork failure may have contributed to cognitive function damage) this past season.

People need to know what kind of a company REI really is...
klk

Trad climber
cali
May 19, 2011 - 12:24pm PT
tx for the thread.

rei is a big corporation, but we already knew that.

my takeaway from the thread is that the liability insurance industry is using this as a test case to prevent or at least limit future settlements and suits.

bigsteve's posts sound credible to me, given my limited experience with the subject.
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
May 19, 2011 - 12:25pm PT
The OP.


I just learned that REI is appealing the most recent ruling in Monika's case.

For those who don't know, Monika was riding downtown in 2007 when the carbon fiber fork on her bike sheared off from the frame and caused her to face plant onto the pavement. Broken jaw, broken teeth, trauma to the brain. She was going about 5 mph on the sidewalk when it happened. Forensic testing showed that the failure was due to a manufacturing defect. Monika had to pay for the test herself, but was never reimbursed by REI. (REI issued a recall based upon the test results.)

REI has denied responsibility, maintaining that the company who manufactured the fork is responsible, not REI, even though REI sub contracted that company and sold Monika the bike under REI's brand name, Navaro. REI even went so far as to suggest that Monika was to blame for the fork's failure because the bike wasn't clean. As though it was Monika's responsibility to notice a manufacturing defect. The superior court sided with Monika, ruling that REI is responsible to Monika and that REI could pursue legal action against the manufacturing company if it wished. REI appealed, and the appellate court ruled in Monika's favor the day she died. And now REI is appealing again. Wasting the time and energy of Monika's lawyer (and friend) and family.

The whole thing makes me sick. REI never reimbursed Monika for any of her medical or dental expenses, nor for her lost wages. Monika never wanted to crucify REI. She just wanted compensation for her expenses and for not being able to work full time on account of her brain injury. (She managed to sleep only about 3 hours a night)

And yet Monika still managed to get by, despite all those expenses and side effects. She did better than get by. She managed to be happy.

REI boasts about being a co op. Pretty swell treatment of one its nicer members.

f*#k REI.
jfs

Trad climber
Upper Leftish
May 19, 2011 - 12:26pm PT
Please also note Big Steve's reasoned responses in the same thread. Useful information regardless of your opinion of REI.

Sad story and as much an indictment of our legal and insurance system as anything else.
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
May 19, 2011 - 12:26pm PT
rei is a big corporation, but we already knew that.


I dont think the size of REI dictates its response. A small gear shop would probably react the same way (if it had the resources)..... Not that its a good thing, just greedy people being greedy.
locker

Social climber
CO
May 19, 2011 - 12:27pm PT



Did REI manufacture the bike...

Or just SELL it???...



fattrad

Mountain climber
GOP Convention
May 19, 2011 - 12:29pm PT
reddirt,

Why do you think I refused to buy a Facelift shirt last year with REI's logo. This year, no REI.



The evil one
reddirt

climber
PNW
Topic Author's Reply - May 19, 2011 - 12:30pm PT
REI is/owns Novarra...

Did BP create the oil spill or its subcontractors?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
May 19, 2011 - 12:30pm PT
Did BP drill the well or just spill the oil?

DMT
weschrist

Gym climber
left sac
May 19, 2011 - 12:30pm PT
Broken jaw, broken teeth, trauma to the brain. She was going about 5 mph on the sidewalk when it happened.

Unfortunate, but WTF?!?! Was she not wearing a helmet? How could anyone sustain that much damage at 5mph?
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
May 19, 2011 - 12:32pm PT
Damn.....That's a shitty bike!

Credit: Port
Credit: Port



locker

Social climber
CO
May 19, 2011 - 12:32pm PT


BP by pushing the subcontractors to substandard limits???...

I DON'T actually know...

Why not SUE the people that MADE the bike???...

Is it not ultimately THEIR mistake???...

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Run like the wind.
May 19, 2011 - 12:33pm PT
REI either stands behind its brand or it does not.

It does not, that is obvious. Same as BP.

DMT
atchafalaya

Boulder climber
May 19, 2011 - 12:35pm PT
The position that REi should "just pay" is pretty ridiculous. Product liability cases turn to the manufacturer (not REI). The fact they re-labeled under the name Novaro does not mean the manufacturer should not bear ultimate responsibility for a design defect. There is strict liability for manufacturers. That standard should not be applied to a consumer like REI.

That being said, they may still be liable for negligence, or under a different theory.
jfs

Trad climber
Upper Leftish
May 19, 2011 - 12:35pm PT
typical interweb responses...
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
May 19, 2011 - 12:40pm PT
You can't necessarily blame REI for what has happened. In these cases, it's often the insurer that's in control of the defence, not the insured (REI). As long as the insurer mounts a credible defence, and acts in good faith (hard to prove otherwise), it decides how the case will be fought - not the company that's insured. And as someone mentioned, the insurance industry may be worried about a precedent.

"Hard cases make bad law". A very sad business.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
May 19, 2011 - 12:40pm PT
How could anyone sustain that much damage at 5mph?

I wound up with major orthopedic surgery and a full year of painful rehab following an accident that occurred when I was going about 2 mph. (No head damage, though). So her outcome, while unusual, is hardly impossible.

REI's repsonse on the other hand, while hardly unusual, is inexcusable.

Mangy Peasant

Social climber
Riverside, CA
May 19, 2011 - 12:44pm PT
REI has denied responsibility, maintaining that the company who manufactured the fork is responsible, not REI, even though REI sub contracted that company and sold Monika the bike under REI's brand name,

REI haters gonna hate, but there may actually be two sides to this story.

The above argument does seem reasonable.

Would the mom and pop bike shop have responded any differently?
stevep

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
May 19, 2011 - 01:09pm PT
I obviously don't know all the details about how this case worked, but if it was a manufacturing defect, I would think that the fault is with the fork manufacturer, not with REI. The Novara bikes are REI's house brand, but I don't think they make them. I'm sure they are made at some factory in China, and I'd bet that the CF forks are made in China or Taiwan as well. I'd imagine a small shop would act the same if this was a Specialized bike they sold.

The exception to this would be if the failure was due to an assembly problem...i.e. an REI employee cranked the headset down too much or accidentally cut the steerer tube carbon fiber. But if it was an actual manufacturer defect, I'm not sure it would be appropriate to hold REI liable.
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
May 19, 2011 - 01:18pm PT
I don't understand not holding REI liable. So if a Sears brand breaks in a dangerous manner, you don't hold Sears responsible? I don't understand this. Can someone explain this? What about a Vons brand food product? If it kills someone? Vons has no responsibility? They get to put their name on it, get all the benefits but have no responsibility if it goes bad? Something about that sounds like baloney to me. So explain it to me please.

And this business about it being part of the contract that the insurer gets to decide. That sounds like more big business bullshit to me. What happened to the "customer is always right"? If a big company like REI stood up to the insurance industry, then we would have less of this bullsh#t.
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