More on Almost Million dollar Bystander Cse

Even though one of the conditions of the bystander’s million dollar broken hip case was partial confidentiality you can find the original lawsuit here on the Your Missouri Courts site. Type in: Friend, Doris or type in case number 0716-CV13432 and Doris Friend et al v. Rolling Wheels (et al) comes up. Click on the case number then, in the menu bar above, Parties & Attorneys. Scroll down and you’ll find Motorcycle Safety Foundation. This confirm the MSF was the “national licensing organization”—as if there was any doubt. I spoke with Danny Thomas, the plaintiff’s attorney late last week. Here is what he had to say:

Note: Danny Thomas, of Humphrey, Farrington & McLain never referred to MSF as anything except in vague terms such as “anonymous defendant” or “national licensing organization” or the Basic RiderCourse as “the curriculum the school used.” However, since the Your Missouri Court site does identify MSF and that means the BRC I will use those terms in the following.

The school involved was Rolling Wheels Training Center and here’s the range—though according to a source, it’s been moved further east than it appears in the Google satellite photo. The range has a 40’ run-off—but immediately beyond the run-off area are parking spaces that are regularly is use. The range has a 3-degree slant sloping from north to south.

The crash occurred on Wednesday July 5, 2006 at 8:30 am in Exercise 2, Part III. The rider was riding a Honda Rebel that weighed 300 lbs (engine sized was not available). She had fallen in the same part of the exercise before she had the run-off. She rode south and downhill off the range towards the stores and traveled less than 100 feet from the range before hitting the car.

Doris Friend was just putting her drycleaning in her car when the student hit it so hard it raised up in the air and towards Friend. As it came down the car hit Friend knocking her over and breaking her hip. The student was also injured and also transported to the emergency room by ambulance but was not as seriously injured as Friend.

In this case, of course, the liability-waiver did not apply. After the suit was filed, there was not a great deal of cooperation on MSF’s part. During the discovery phase, Thomas repeatedly requested MSF make insurance claims on incident reports from 2002-2006 and that used the BRC. Thomas said MSF refused to turn them over and protested that in no other lawsuit had they been compelled to do so. The judge finally had to order MSF to release them.

Thomas first said they sent between 20,000 and 40,000. Only incidents at sites that had purchased MSF RiderCourse Insurance were included. All programs/sites that use another insurance carrier were not included.

“Not all of them,” Thomas said, “were injury crashes.”

MSF’s policy is that an incident report be filled out if there’s any property damage or injury—even if minor. According to the RiderCourse Insurance Plan brochure, MSF has a $25,000 self insured retention (SIR), commonly called a deductible) on each occurrence for liability. MSF pays up to that $25,000 directly without involving the insurance company.

Thomas didn’t know if incident reports below those limits were included.

Within a few days of Thomas receiving the incident reports—and before he another attorney had a chance to look more than a fraction of them—MSF’s attorneys contacted them asking for a settlement.

One of the conditions of the settlement was that all of the incident reports be returned immediately. An administrator of a fairly large program commented that it’s as if the huge settlement was more to hide what was in the incident reports than for the broken hip itself.

Thomas never had the opportunity to catalogue all the injuries or what kind they were. What he saw, though, disturbed him greatly.

Thomas said early on in the conversation that there had been seven deaths since 2002. At a later point in the conversation he once again said there had been seven deaths “since the current curriculum has been taught.”

I clarified that there had been six from 2002 on that I had discovered: Fenton, MO, Laconia, NH, Colorado Springs, CO, Valencia, CA, Kenosha, WI, and Honesdale, PA. He stopped me at that point—the one in Pennsylvania didn’t count as it was prior to the BRC. No, that one happened in Valley Forge in 1998, I said. There was another one in Honesdale, PA in 2007.

There was a stunned silence on the other end of the line and then he said he hadn’t known about that one. There was also a crash that resulted in quadriplegia two weeks later in Sugar Notch, PA, I added. If anything the silence was deeper, more shocked. He said he hadn’t known that either.

At which point I was a bit stunned—if he wasn’t counting either death in Pennsylvania—it could mean there are two other deaths that have so far been hidden from the motorcycling and rider education community—and the general public.

If there has been two more deaths, all eight occurred since 2002 and all eight deaths were in courses taught with student-centered, adult-learning instruction. Unfortunately, he couldn’t recall where those deaths occurred and he had to go on to another meeting. So far, a request for further information has not be responded to—but if it is, I’ll be sure to let readers know.

Thomas is appalled at what he has learned about rider training under this organization. He said he wanted the public to find out about the case, wanted people to know what they were getting into—though so far news of the case has only made it into Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

“It’s a horrible program,” he said. “Horrible.”

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5 Comments on “More on Almost Million dollar Bystander Cse”

  1. Diogenes Says:

    Amazing and appalling… the truth is far worse than anyone imagined. If MSF alone sent ‘between 20,000 and 40,000 injury reports’, how many more are held by USIA, the other company that insures rider training programs? And how many more deaths do you suppose they’ve been successful in hiding. These supposedly safe parking lot programs are supposed to prevent deaths and injuries, not cause them. Just how much blood will it take before someone will call MSF and the manufacturers to account for the carnage they’re causing in the name of profits?

  2. gymnast Says:

    Wendy,
    By intentionally “burying” the thousands of “incident reports”, the “institution” known as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and its Board of Directors have revealed a great deal about the ethics and character of it’s “stewardship”. Slowly, layer by layer, you have been instrumental in revealing the rot and corruption at the heart of what is a morally corrupt organization. That thousands of instructors and millions as well as the legislators and legislatures of many states have been taken in by the Motorcycle “Safety” “Foundation” farce is indeed a testament to the motorcycle industries marketing and lobbying skills.

    What is truly tragic is the blind faith that many thousands of instructors have placed in the MSF to “do right by them” over the years while the MSF has come to view them only as “useful and willing cannon fodder”.

    Gymnast

  3. ET Says:

    I asked MSF to comment on student deaths, and they did, here’s what they said:

    http://www.bikesafer.com/blog/2009/06/msf-responds-on-student-deaths.html

  4. wmoon Says:

    ET, you do not cite who issued this statement purporting to be from MSF though, in the entry where you begin to take issue with what I’ve written, you say that “Stacey” will give you a “press release”. Yet I can find this “press release” nowhere else except your blog. Please clarify this information for us all so we can be sure it was MSF that released the information. MSF representatives at the SMSA conference confirmed last August that there have been 7 deaths in training, btw. For a “factual information” press release there sure is precious few facts. Not to mention that 3 deaths in the past year from medical conditions while not riding could describe three cases where a student was injured in an AIS-6 manner but didn’t die while on the bike–but died on the ground from injuries–which would be a medical condition. Without further details, and knowing how other deaths have been misrepresented by Harley and MSF, I have to say I take this alleged statement with a grain of salt. Especially since you brag in another entry on your blog about having critical reasoning skills, I will point out that this alleged press release doesn’t mention that in the 2.1 million trained before 2002, only one death occurred–and that was in 1998. So six since 2005 and (supposedly) 2.5 million trained? That doesn’t strike a man of your critical reasoning abilities as odd? And 3 deaths in one year couched in terms that could mean three more deaths as a result of crashes? And it doesn’t strike you with your analytical abilities that this statement is odd that crashes were “thoroughly investigated by law enforcement, insurance investigators, or others. The curricula, and the delivery of the curricula by RiderCoaches, have never been determined to be a factor.” What very logical group is missing from that list–or let me be blunt–what group that knows enough about the curriculum to investigate any connection is missing from that list? And why, do you suppose that would be? And just who’s privacy is being protected? And the excuse used to be was that these were still being litigated–so which is it?

    Not to mention that MSF says it “employs a stringent quality assurance program” and yet almost all of those crashes did not happen in states where MSF was running the QAV (though I can’t say about the 3 additional deaths as that is news to me–but rest assured, I will do my best to find out more). So what that has to do with anything I do not know.

    I also find it interesting that after years of MSF stonewalling every rider education expert and magazine writer that they should suddenly become so forthcoming with someone who has been blogging since May of this year. When Tim Buche was giving me, Dave Searle and Fred Rau a tour of MSF/MIC/SVIA, he himself told us how very carefully they vet those the communications department will talk to–let alone come up with their very own press release on something as controversial as the deaths. So I find this all very interesting. Especially when you say on your About Us (though there is no “us” it appears but just you), that you have “no qualifications to run this site”. You seems as if you’re eager to be accused of some conspiracy. I wouldn’t say that at all. I would agree with your assessment that you are just “a simple-minded bike rider who has some time on his hands, access to a web server.” I have five years of full-time research into this–and my work is highly praised by real experts in the field of motorcycle safety. Which is all the more curious that you got the press release when so many have been asking about this for years.

    As unqualified as you say you are you feel that you are more than expert to criticize my work and say I have misrepresented things–though there’s so many errors not just on your site but in your analysis of my work–and misrepresent what I have written. So pardon me, but given the aspersions you cast on my work, I find that very ironic that in your About Us page on your site it says you’re employed by FNSK Company INC. . According the Tennessee Secretary of State site, that corporation was dissolved in 1995 and that you were the principal agent. Don’t you think that’s a bit of a misrepresentation to say you’re employed by a corporation when it’s YOUR (inactive) corporation run from your home? Nor is BikeSafer is registered as a dba in Tennessee–or rather not one I could find at any rate. So I find it rather charming that you

    I do see you’re working as some kind programmer who works out of your home as a consultant–in fact, you are listed as Fergus Nolan Corp–but there is no business entity listing for that either on the Secretary of State site, either. I presume the laws must be looser in TN and anyone can claim they are something they have not legally registered to be.

    So, my friend, I would strongly suggest that before you look for a speck in my eye, you take care of the plank in your own.

  5. CaptCrash Says:

    Stopped by the Rolling Wheels site last week. There are now concrete vehicle barricades seperating the range from the parking lot.


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