Eubanks v. KBC America Inc.
2010 – Daily Journal; Verdicts & Settlements
LOS ANGELES—A jury Thursday rejected a product liability lawsuit brought against a sports helmet maker on behalf of a young man who suffered severe brain damage in a motocross crash three years ago in Gorman.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about five hours before finding in favor of helmet manufacturer KBC America Inc. of Burbank and retailer Valencia Sport Group Inc., where the headgear was purchased.
Lawyers for Richard and Kandy Eubanks had asked for $18 million in damages, most of it for the future lifetime care of their 20-year-old son, Justin, who was 17 at the time of the crash.
"This was a case that was well-tried on both sides and the jury reached the right result," defense attorney Delmar Thomas said.
During closing arguments in the trial, the Eubanks' attorney, Raymond P. Johnson, said the couple's son needs constant attention and has a life expectancy of at least 40 more years.
But attorney James J. Yukevich, for KBC America and Valencia Sport Group, said the rider's negligence caused his injuries, not the head gear he was wearing while on a practice run on July 21, 2007, at what is now known as the Quail Canyon motocross track.
He was traveling 20 to 30 mph when he was hurled over the handlebars and his bike landed on top of him, causing his helmet to crack, according to the suit filed a year after the crash.
His parents maintained the plastic SixSixOne Flight model was defective and that KBC gave insufficient label warnings concerning its protection capabilities.
According to Johnson, a stronger material like carbon fiber could have made a difference for Eubanks. But he said KBC used plastic because it was less expensive.
However, Yukevich said the helmet met or exceeded all U.S. government requirements and that it was designed to crack to absorb the impact in the event of a crash such as the one that injured Justin Eubanks. He also said there was no concrete evidence that the bike hit the rider after he fell off.
During the trial, Kandy Eubanks testified that she and her husband help their son in almost every aspect of his life, including getting him out of bed, feeding him, taking him for his shower and giving him his medicine.
Her son had ridden safely for 11 years before the accident, she said.