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Watertown man amends lawsuit against shipping company, adds two manufacturers

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A Watertown man seriously injured when his bicycle hit a Federal Express truck in 2012 has added the manufacturers of the bike he was riding and the helmet he was wearing to a lawsuit against the package shipping company.

Paul A. Kraeger amended his state Supreme Court action against FedEx in a supplemental complaint filed Wednesday at the Jefferson County clerk’s office naming Specialized Bicycle Components Inc., Morgan Hill, Calif., and Bell Sports Inc. and Bell Sports’s parent company, Easton-Bell Sports Inc., both of Van Nuys, Calif., as defendants.

Mr. Kraeger, chief financial officer at Samaritan Medical Center, filed suit against FedEx and one of its drivers, Amber Stevens, Gouverneur, in October 2012 claiming, among other things, that Ms. Stevens was negligent when she pulled a FedEx truck onto the shoulder of Route 3 in Black River, where it was struck in the rear by Mr. Kraeger’s bicycle as he was traveling in a designated bicycle lane. His amended complaint maintains that Ms. Stevens was negligent in not pulling the truck off the paved roadway and by failing to provide proper warning that the vehicle was halted in a bike lane.

According to the amended complaint, Mr. Kraeger suffered a cervical neck fracture, a spinal cord injury and has been rendered quadriplegic.

Mr. Kraeger contends that the impact with the truck caused the front fork of his bike to “fracture and collapse,” resulting in his being thrown against the vehicle with great force. His helmet also shattered and its neck strap snagged on a handrail on the truck, causing forceful twisting to his neck and head area, according to the complaint.

He maintains that Specialized Bicycle Components was negligent in its design of the bike in that it was made of a carbon fiber, the “brittle nature” of which the company failed to consider. He claims the company also failed to consider the “crashworthiness’ of the bike’s front fork and failed to design the front fork and steering assembly so that it would not collapse during what was described in court documents as a low-speed frontal impact.

Mr. Kraeger further maintains that Bell Sports failed to warn users of its helmet that its shell would gradually deteriorate and lose strength over the course of years and failed to warn that the helmet may snag, potentially resulting in the type of injuries suffered by Mr. Kraeger. He also contends that the FedEx truck was dangerously designed owing to the protruding handrail.

The suit does not specify an amount being sought in damages. Mr. Kraeger is represented in the action by Syracuse attorney John C. Cherundolo.

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