Plaintiff in this case was a 40-year-old tri-athlete. He was injured during a head-on collision with a bicyclist traveling in the opposite direction, when the other bicyclist lost control of his bicycle. As a result of the accident, plaintiff was unconscious for several hours, and despite the fact that he was able to go back to work in the advertising industry, he was not able to work at the same level he worked at before the accident.
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the helmet involved in the accident and the organizers of the triathlon. Against the helmet manufacturer, plaintiff alleged that the helmet was inadequately designed to protect someone’s brain from the type of foreseeable impact plaintiff suffered in the accident. The theory against the triathlon organizer was that the roadway was too narrow; there were too many people allowed to compete in the event; and it was negligent to have bicycles riding at a high speed traveling in two-way traffic on the course.
Defendant claimed that a release signed by plaintiff before the race absolutely prohibited Plaintiff from bringing any type of lawsuit whatsoever. Further, defendant claimed that under California Assumption of Risk law, plaintiff assumed the risk for his own injuries. Finally, the helmet manufacturer claimed that there was nothing wrong with the design of the helmet.
The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, along with co-counsel, took the position that the release was invalid because plaintiff’s signature was obtained fraudulently. Specifically, there was a misrepresentation on the release regarding the number of tri-athletes who would be competing and that there was a representation that the roadway met the appropriate standards, when it did not. As to the assumption of risk argument, the law firm argued that, once again, the fraud precluded plaintiff from knowing what risk he was assuming, and, further that the triathlon organizers had negligently increased the normal risk of the activity, thus, it should not be able to rely on the doctrine or the assumption of risk.
The case settled after an intensive litigation.
RESULT: $450,000 settlement on behalf of plaintiff