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Shapiro & Appleton

Firm Contacts CPSC To Demand Investigation of Potential Ride-On Mower Fuel Tank Defects

Posted on Jan 28, 2015
After winning a $2.5 million jury verdict for the widow of a man who burned to death when his Ryobi ride-on mower caught fire and exploded, the law firms of Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan and Sullivan Law are taking further action to help avoid future mower fire deaths and injuries. 
 
The Consumer Product Safety Commission was contacted by Virginia Beach & Norfolk wrongful death lawyer Richard N. Shapiro and Kansas City wrongful death lawyer Rob Sullivan and asked to look into potential defects in the fuel tank and fuel line of some Ryobi ride-on lawn mowers, because Ryobi did not notify the public of this defect. Check out the letter here: https://www.hsinjurylaw.com/library/Ltr-to-CPSC---Shapiro-Appleton-Duffan-Law-Firm.pdf.
 
In 2006, Ryobi made a replacement fuel tank available, but only if a consumer needed a new fuel tank and specifically requested a new tank from the manufacturer. It appears Ryobi attempted to get by with a proverbial “silent recall.” They replaced a key component of the ride-on mower, but did not notify, alert, or publicize this newly designed tank to Ryobi purchasers or the public at large. 
 
Mr. Sullivan stated “Ryobi and Husqvarna essentially initiated a ‘silent recall’ in 2006 when they made a replacement tank available, but not one consumer was made aware of the safer fuel tank or the risk of sudden fires.”
 
A federal jury determined that it was the defective fuel tank and fuel line that led to the tragic death of Frank Wright on December 23, 2010. [See Bilenky v. Ryobi, et. al, 2:13-cv-00345 at ECF No. 165]. Mr. Wright’s horrific fuel-fed fire death was the basis of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Sullivan on behalf of Mr. Wright’s estate. The jury agreed with Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Sullivan that Ryobi was negligent in its manufacture of the fuel tank and fuel line. 
 
For more information about what happened during this case, check out this interview of Mr. Shapiro on the Legal Examiner: http://virginiabeach.legalexaminer.com/defective-dangerous-products/2-5-m-verdict-for-widow-of-88-year-old-man-burned-to-death-by-ryobi-mower-fire-in-chesapeake-virginia/.
 
“A federal jury in Norfolk, Virginia spoke loud-and-clear with its $2.5 million verdict that there is a serious defect in some Ryobi ride-on lawn mowers and action must be taken to prevent another tragedy. Ryobi must do the right thing and notify people who purchased a Ryobi ride-on mower in Home Depot stores. Ryobi should also pay for the replacement tanks that were made available in 2006, but without any notification or alert message sent to purchasers by Ryobi. They made the new part available, but failed to tell the public. Simply put, one more injury or death is one too many,” said Shapiro.
 
Although the jury trial has ended, Shapiro and Sullivan are determined to spread the word about potential consumer safety risks.

It’s the right thing to do.  

Key Data:

Ryobi Mower Model No. HDK194H2 – this is the ride-on mower model involved in Frank Wright’s tragic accident on December 23, 2010.

Approximately 18,600 units in this Ryobi model family were produced with the same type of fuel tank and fuel line that was on Mr. Wright’s mower.  

Other mower models manufactured with defective fuel tank and fuel line include:

1. Husqvarna Lawn Tractor Model No. LTH18542A(all serial numbers)

2. Husqvarna Lawn Tractor Model No. LTH18542B(all serial numbers)

Randy E. Appleton
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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