Man left paralyzed in bicycle accident sues importer

Byron Kidd
A 60-year-old man has sued a bicycle importer after he was left paralyzed in a bicycle accident.

Hiroshi Nakajima, from Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, filed a case against Tokyo-based bicycle importer Cycleurope Japan Co. on Monday, seeking some 160 million yen in compensation over the accident, caused by a defective bicycle, that left him paralyzed.

According to Nakajima, he fell off his bicycle manufactured by Italian brand Bianchi on his way to work in August 2008 when the front wheel of the vehicle suddenly came off from its forks. He suffered severe injuries to his spine and was left paralyzed from the neck down.

The bicycle was imported and marketed by Cycleurope Japan, Bianchi's parent company in Japan. The product was designed by an Osaka firm with its suspension manufactured by a Taiwanese maker. However, the man argues that the bicycle importer is liable for the damage he suffered and sued the company in accordance with the Product Liability Act.

Following a request from the plaintiff, experts conducted a safety test on the bicycle and concluded that the separation of the front wheel could have been caused by its corrosion-prone suspension system, as well as a lack of locking equipment to prevent the separation.

The importer received a warning from the Consumer Affairs Agency in March this year after it failed to report the incident to the government.

If the bicycle is defective who is at fault?  The importer?  The manufacturer of the bicycle?  The manufacturer of the suspension?

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  1. Not the importer but both the manufacturer of the suspension and the manufacturer of the bike probably should be liable IF there truly was a defect. Sometimes it is not the bicycle but the person who built the bike later at the bike shop. Did the importer build the bike?

  2. As pointed out by a friend on another forum. Liability will probably end up on the party with the weaker team of lawyers.

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