Russell Pinder accuses suspension fork firm of negligence

High Court hears wheel fell out on rocky descent

Lawyers acting for Russell Pinder, who was paralysed in a mountain biking accident, have accused suspension fork firm Fox Racing Shox of negligence.

Pinder's legal team say a design flaw with his Fox Float 100R forks caused his front wheel to come loose during a ride in the Brecon Beacons, in Wales in 2003. The resultant crash left him paralysed from the chest down and reliant on a wheelchair.

Today at the High Court in London, Pinder's lawyers began to argue that the US company should pay massive compensation for Mr Pinder's injuries.

Mr Pinder had ridden the Brecon Beacons route on many occasions and was 14 miles into the ride when he suffered his accident, Barry Cotter QC told Mr Justice Plender. He was descending a rocky track at about 20mph, applying disc brakes, when the front wheel detached from the fork, causing him to be thrown over the handlebars. Although he was wearing a helmet, he sustained serious injuries, including severe damage to his spine, which resulted in paralysis.   

Mr Cotter said his case was that "the design of the front forks would, when combined with certain disc brakes, in a certain alignment and when using a front wheel secured by a quick-release mechanism, create loosening of the front wheel after repeated brake application, followed by subsequent ejection of the wheel out of the front forks."

He said Fox Racing Shox had not adequately tested the effect of the use of disc brakes with a quick release mechanism on the safety of the fork.   

The company had also failed, he said, to heed the forces produced by disc brakes and to modify the fork to take this into account or to indicate to users that they should not use it with disc brakes.

The lawyer said the position of the disc brake mount on the rear of the fork had also contributed, as, had it been on the other side of the fork, the forces generated would not have led to the wheel being ejected. He showed a packed court diagrams and wooden models of parts of the bike to explain how the accident may have happened.   

The case is being contested on behalf of Fox Racing Shox by Andrew Prynne QC, who will call evidence from witnesses via video links from the US later this week.   

After his accident, Mr Pinder was airlifted to hospital and later taken to Stoke Mandeville hospital, in Buckinghamshire, where he stayed for six months.   

His lawyers say he is permanently handicapped in his social, domestic and everyday life and has only been able to return part-time to his job at Stephen Russell Construction Ltd, in Aylesbury, where he is a company director and chief estimator.

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