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REI Loses Liability Suit for Defective Bike Part

SEATTLE (CN) - Recreational Equipment Inc. is responsible for a defective bicycle part manufactured by another company and sold under the REI brand, a Washington appeals court ruled, just days after the plaintiff died in a backcountry skiing accident.

Monika Johnson sued REI after a defective carbon fiber fork on her bicycle caused her to crash in 2007 and sustain serious injuries. The bike and part were manufactured by Aprebic Industry Company, but sold under REI's brand name Novara. The appellate court agreed with the trial court's ruling that REI has the liability of a manufacturer under the Washington Product Liability Act.

"Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's ruling that Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is not entitled to seek to allocate fault to the manufacturer of the defective product that REI branded as its own," Judge Stephen Dwyer wrote for the court's three-judge panel on Feb. 7. "We also conclude that the trial court erred neither by finding REI strictly liable for the injuries caused by the defective product nor by ruling that any third party claim by REI against the manufacturer would be severed for trial."

Johnson died during a ski trip on Feb. 1, when a snow ledge she was standing on broke, dropping her down a mountainside and burying her under snow, according to the Seattle Times.

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