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Mother of motorcyclist killed in crash sues for $3M

Published: Fri, July 3, 2009 @ 12:06 a.m.

The suit says the deceased’s motorcycle helmet was flawed.

By Peter H. Milliken

YOUNGSTOWN — The mother of a motorcyclist who was killed two years ago in a collision with another motorcyclist, who also died in the crash, has filed a $3 million wrongful-death lawsuit.

Wanda L. Earles, of Queens Lane, Canfield, mother of the late Brent R. Earles, filed suit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court against the estate of the other dead motorcyclist, an insurance company and the maker and seller of a helmet alleged to be defective that was worn by her son.

Named as defendants are HJC America Inc. of Cerritos, Calif., which the suit said made the helmet Earles wore when the collision occurred; Andrews Cycles Inc. of Salem, which the suit said sold Earles the helmet; the estate of the late Mathew Tynal, who the suit said negligently caused the fatal collision; and Allstate Insurance Co. of Northbrook, Ill., which the suit said unjustly declined to pay an insurance claim made by Earles’ estate.

The suit also lists 10 unidentified John Doe defendants it alleges were negligent.

Upon impact, Earles’ helmet flew off his head, even though its chin strap had been secured, the suit said. Earles then suffered a fatal skull fracture after being ejected from his motorcycle, the suit said.

The collision, which killed Earles, 20, of Queens Lane, and Tynal, 19, of McCollum Road, Youngstown, occurred July 1, 2007, on Ohio Works Drive.

Tynal tried to turn left at Sinter Court and was broadsided by Earles, who tried to go around a third cyclist, police said. Both of the men who were killed rode speeding “crotch rockets” and wore helmets, police said.

The 90 mph impact sent Earles airborne and into a tree about 110 feet from the collision, witnesses said.

The crash occurred in the Ohio Works Industrial Park on a desolate stretch of winding concrete road on a Sunday, when businesses occupying the park were closed.

Phil Andrews, owner of Andrews Cycles, would not comment, other than to describe the collision that killed Earles and Tynal as “an unfortunate accident.”

Spokesmen for the other defendants could not be reached to comment.

The suit, filed by Atty. Jeffrey A. Kurz, demands a jury trial and is assigned to Judge Maureen A. Sweeney.



1ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 7 years ago

This case should be thrown out. These kids had no business down there on Ohio Works Drive. They were most likely drag racing on that long straight stretch of road. Going 90 mph at the time of the collision on a crotch rocket and landing 110 feet from the collision and the mother thinks the helmet will protect him? Oh please, don't insult my intelligence!

Should Allstate Insurance pay a claim that results from reckless operation and riding a motorcycle 65 MPH over the speed limit? Should Andrews Motorcycle be held liable for selling a legal product which was used in a situation it was never designed for? No!

The mother and Atty. Kurz should be the poster children for why tort reform is sorely needed in the US.

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2teddybear6(40 comments)posted 7 years ago

steelman - I agree. This is just wrong.

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3Level_Headed(30 comments)posted 6 years, 12 months ago

Most insurance companies PLAINLY and CLEARLY exclude any damages resulting from street racing, or demolition derby like activities... Guessing that is where Allstate is coming from.. SOme are also starting to deny claims where an illegal activity is taking place.. i.e. accidents caused by drunk drivers..

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4justsayin(42 comments)posted 6 years, 12 months ago

All legal costs for both parties in these lawsuits should be paid for by the losing attorney. That would surely make these schysters think twice before filing such ridiculous lawsuits.

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5casper77(136 comments)posted 6 years, 12 months ago

The young man's mom should be happy he didn't kill some young family. Always blame other people for your stupid mistakes.What do you think that's going to happen when you are going 90mph on a cycle and crash? No helmet in the world will protect you at those speeds

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6cambridge(4065 comments)posted 6 years, 12 months ago

My heart goes out to both families for their loss, but as a long time motorcycle rider and crasher that's part of the pastime. I've wrecked twice, spent weeks in the hospital and have had a million close calls. Pretty much every friend I have that rides has been down and I have a few acquaintances that have been killed. Everyone that rides knows the risk and to make a claim against an equipment company is out of line.

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7donniecycle(7 comments)posted 6 years, 12 months ago

Some of your readers are just ignorant people.
A mother lost her son. Having a cycle myself I would want to know if a helmet has a flaw or could have one. Silly to think we wouldn't want to know if a car's seatbelt was flawed in some way. And, everyone speeds, not just young boys, all of us are guilty of speeding. This is a sad story and I think this unfortunate accident deserves respect. I hope this mother wins because no amount of money is going to bring back her son. And, I am sure the insurance company looks for any means not to pay, but is that fair? --NO. We all pay premiums and it's time insurance companies pay up, especially in situations that result in deaths.
Readers should really try to imagine the loss this woman has had in her life before making any comment. Good luck to this mother!

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8Woody(491 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

She should sue herself for not teaching him better.

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9Eric(207 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

"everyone speeds, not just young boys, all of us are guilty of speeding."

Are all of us guilty of going 90 MPH on a winding road? I hope not. And as far as Allstate goes, insurance policies have limits. And I doubt their limit was $3M. And, it's not Allstate's fault that these guys operated their bikes with total disregard for human life. Regarding the helmet, the plaintiff would have to prove that the helmet was flawed. Even then, she would have to prove that the result would have been different otherwise. The other rider was also killed. Did his helmet stay on? If so, the plaintiff may have a difficult time proving fault.

It is an unfortunate accident, but the fact is these guys were all negligent. Come on, we see it all the time-young males flying dangerously down streets on crotch rockets. The other mother lost a son, too. It is true that no amount of money will bring her son back. If no amount of money will bring her son back, what is the point of pursuing this claim? It's simply greed. If these guys were using more common sense we wouldn't even be having this discussion. The families certainly deserve our support and sympathy, but not our $$.

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10blake012(1 comment)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

Wow, if people are being this ignorant to such a tragic death, I don't know what this world is coming to. Obviously the family is going through tough times since the lose of their family member. This is probably a way to get closure and I wish them good luck and I hope they win. I guarantee half of these people that posted these incondererate comments haven't been through anything nearly as life- changing as losing apart of their family. So good luck to the family, and to everyone else you should research more about a topic before posing your low opinions on them.

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11Viewpoint(89 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

As terrible as this tragedy is, it is only being compounded by this lawsuit. The family lost a member because he acted without regard for his own safety, so how does his action become someone elses fault? It is time for that family to accept the fact that their departed member was doing something very stupid and without weighing the consequence of his actions. He died as a result of his own ill considered decision. The sole responsibility rests on him, not on all the listed parties to this frivolous legal action.

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12janeyblue(227 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

greed! pure and simple

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13auz2(7 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

I feel bad the mother lost her son, but clearly he has some blame in the situation. How does the mother even know the chin strap was secure? I am sure the force of impact had something to do with the helmet. No where in Ohio is the speed limit 90 mph. As for getting closure with a lawsuit? She is suing the estate of the other deceased young man who also has a family to think about! No amount of money is going to bring back her son or alleviate the guilt over his death.

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14donniecycle(7 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

If you don't know the facts, don't make senseless comments. We don't know about the helmet's condition. If an attorney takes a case, there usually is a case to take. Both families suffered incredible losses. I hope both families get something. I'm a parent too --my kid isn't into those crotch rockets. Those cycles are made cheap and affordable for the young -not like a Harley. Both boys were over 18 and accidents happen and I'm certain this mom didn't know crotch rockets go 90 mph in 2nd gear. I'm sure neither one of those boys wanted to die that day on a road known in Youngstown for racing --I bet those boys felt they were being safe going to race on a desolate road that our community allowed with no speed bumps and no police there. Best thing to do is to stand behind both families now. This tragedy obviously lives on, not out of greed --but out of concern for other cyclists and out of insurance denying the value of life. Sometimes you need an attorney who is willing to help. Bless this mom who obviously is a good mom! I still want her to win.

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15donniecycle(7 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

Let's hope a tradegy doesn't happen to your family member or in your lifetime or to your child..... YSUgrad99 - let's hope you make a huge donation and forego further slander against others! Unless you know the law and what is required, refrain from foolish comments, especially those directed at a mother! Really, you can't blame a mother whose son was an adult for anything. My mother hates my cycle --bet this mom wasn't happy her son had a bike. You can't blame her attorney either --first you say he is a decent guy and now you curse him? If my kid's helmet came off, I'd sue too. You all act like it is coming right out of your own accounts. That's why we have life and accident insurance and that's why we have measures in place for safety. I bet this mother has suffered plenty, emotionally and financially. Put yourself in other people's shoes, before judging them. None of us know the facts --end of story.

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16donniecycle(7 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

You don't know the facts period. No police report will determine everything --that is fact. As far as Attorney Kurz --he is reputable, an ethical guy, who has helped Youngstown in its revitalization. I feel bad for this mother. The YSU grad 99 slammed her and her attorney. Some of you are not parents and you have not lost a child --there is no way you know how to grieve or the right way to grieve anything so horrible.
Lawsuits are many times the only course of action that can be taken
and again you do not know how you would react to your child's death or if the other family has reacted and received insurance settlement. Think before you speak people!

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17northsideperson(366 comments)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

Was the helmet made to endure 90mph impact - substantially above legal speed limit in Ohio?
Were the driver(s) operating illegally - either by racing or exceeding the speed limit?
I think a determination of the answers to these two questions - whatever it is - should drive the outcome.

I see this as greed, not closure. Tha answers to the above questions could vindicate Andrews, Allstate or HJC America. If it wasn't about money, why did they ask for a jury trial?

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18donniecycle(7 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

YSUgrad99 --your comments are worthless crap.
Go back to school and learn to pray not prey!
I think the mom should sue you. Attorney you
are not --and let's hope the jury is a better group
of human beings! And thank God many of you are not the judge of anything or of this case in particular. I have heard this mother and her son were good people activity in the community. Sad
that the "good" die young. One can only hope both families are coping and whatever they need --let's wish them the best outcome. Pray she wins big!

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