‘Team Molly’ parents sue electric bike company over daughter’s death

The parents of a girl who died after an electric bike accident filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday against Seattle electric bike company Rad Power Bikes.

In the lawsuit, Kaye and Jonathan Steinsapir, the parents of Molly Steinsapir, who died last year at age 12, say flaws in the bike’s design made it difficult for riders to slow down and stop as the bike moved. I gained speed going downhill.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also alleges that Rad Power Bikes engaged in “improper marketing of children’s electric bicycles,” adding that the company failed to “adequately warn of the dangers of children riding.” They ride electric bikes.

In a statement, a Rad Power Bikes spokesperson said: “The entire Rad Power Bikes team expresses its deepest condolences to the Steinsapir family on the tragic loss of Molly Steinsapir. We are aware of the lawsuit filed by the family. Rad Power Bikes does not comment on pending litigation.”

The accident occurred on January 31, 2021, while Molly was traveling with a friend in Los Angeles. Later that day, in a twitter post sent from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, his mother asked for support: “Please. Please. Please. Everyone PRAY for my daughter Molly.”

For the next 16 days, Ms. Steinsapir continued to post on Twitter while Molly, who had a traumatic brain injury, remained in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. Ms. Steinsapir’s tweets were shared hundreds of thousands of times and an online community was formed around the hashtag #TeamMolly.

When Molly died on February 15, her death set off a wave of online discussion about grief and mourning nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, which by then had killed more than 475,000 people in the US. .

Molly was a passenger on a RadRunner bike, made by Rad Power, when she had her accident. On page 49 of the 57-page owner’s manual for the model, a warning says “The RadRunner is intended for use by persons 18 years of age and older.” On its website, Rad Power Bikes describes some of its bikes as being suitable for riders who are 4 feet 10 inches and taller. She also includes photos of children as passengers on her bikes. Without being pedaled, the company’s electric bikes can go 20 miles per hour.

Rad Power Bikes was founded in 2007 by Mike Radenbaugh, when he was a high school student in Humboldt County, California. Now based in Seattle, the company has raised more than $300 million from investors, including Fidelity Management & Research, in funding rounds.

Electric bike sales in the US have risen sharply in recent years, to an estimated 804,000 in 2021 from 152,000 in 2016, according to the National Association of Bicycle Dealers, an industry trade group. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention in 2020 found that e-bike riders were more likely to require hospitalization after accidents than those who used manual bikes. “Electric bicycles are clearly associated with more serious injuries,” said Dr. Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University Grossman School of Medicine and an author of the study.

The Steinsapir family lawsuit also names Giro Sport Design, the manufacturer of the helmet Molly was wearing. Vista Outdoor, Giro’s parent company, declined to comment.

as plain Mrs. Steinsapir shared stories and photos of her daughter on social media since her death, she did not reveal details of the accident. The lawsuit provides a fuller account.

Molly and an 11-year-old friend got on a RadRunner electric bike that belonged to the friend’s 13-year-old sister, the suit says. The friend was riding the bike while Molly was riding on a flat stand on her rear wheel, a feature that “invites a passenger to sit in tandem,” according to the complaint.

The two girls rode to the top of a hill that they likely would not have been able to climb without the electric drive from the bike, the suit says. After the friend turned the bike around to head back down the hill, the bike “began to accelerate rapidly and began to shake,” according to the complaint. The friend “applied the rear brake, but the bike didn’t slow down. He then pulled on the front brake, but the bike didn’t stop and the front wheel started wobbling.” Lost control and the girls were thrown. The lawsuit claims that the Rad Runner’s “disc brakes coupled with a quick release mechanism to detach the front wheel” are “a known safety hazard” in the bicycle industry.

Molly lay unconscious on the road. Paramedics took her to the hospital, where she underwent several brain surgeries. She never regained consciousness, the complaint says.

Molly’s father, an attorney, has represented the estate of Michael Jackson, among other clients in the entertainment industry. After his daughter’s death, Mr. Steinsapir wrote to Mr. Radenbaugh, telling him about his daughter and adding that he and his wife, also a lawyer, hoped to avoid litigation.

“We want to better understand what happened, why, and how future tragedies like this can be prevented,” Steinsapir wrote in the letter, which is included in the lawsuit. “We urge you to contact us and seek to have a human conversation and not lawyers.” The suit says the company’s response to Steinsapir’s letter was “not productive.” The family has sought damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.

In an interview, Molly’s parents said they felt compelled to make sure no other family suffered this kind of loss.

“No amount of money can bring our daughter back,” Ms. Steinsapir said. “But we can no longer sit quietly.”

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