by Simon MacMichael March 27 2018
A jury in Nevada has awarded damages of $18.7 million against the manufacturers of a tour bus after finding that a flaw in its aerodynamic design led to the death of a cyclist last year.
Dr Kavyan Khiabani, head of hand and microsurgery at the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine, was killed in April 2017 when he was pulled under the bus as he rode alongside it in a cycle lane, reports Courtroom View Network (CVN) (link is external).
Witnesses described how he appeared to veer suddenly towards the 2008 model bus made by North America’s largest manufacturer of buses and coaches, Motor Coach Industries (MCI).
Lawyers for the company, whose insurers reportedly tried to settle the product liability case for $1 million during the month-long trial, had argued that the bus complied with relevant federal safety regulations and that Dr Khiabani had swerved towards the bus, causing the fatal collision.
William Kemp, acting for the victim’s family, maintained that due to its aerodynamic design, the front right of the tour bus exerted a pulling force of 20 pounds whereas other buses with aerodynamic designs exerted no such force.
As a result, the manufacturer should have been aware of the risk posed to cyclists by the vehicle’s design, he argued.
Following the jury’s verdict, he told CVN: “Plaintiffs hope that the verdict stimulates the manufacturers of large buses and trucks to design safer vehicles that are not aerodynamically dangerous.”
He said that the scale of MCI’s operations meant that “any changes made by it will quickly benefit society.”
Kemp added: “This case should be remembered as the first product liability case against a bus manufacturer to recover for poor aerodynamic design.
“Because there are hundreds of thousands of buses and large trucks on the road today that also have bad aerodynamic design that impacts millions of unwary bicyclists they pass, other like lawsuits are inevitable.”