Mobility Scooter Seat Collapse: Daughter Recovers For Mother’s Death
Carolyn Sorenson, age 62, was born with a disease that impaired her muscles and her ability to walk. Despite the challenges, however, she was able to work and live independently in her own apartment in St. Petersburg, FL.
In order to ambulate, Carolyn used a Drive Daytona GT3 mobility scooter similar to this one:
The scooter was manufactured by Wu Tech Co. Ltd. located in Taiwan and imported into the United States by Medical Depot, Inc. in New York.
On December 6, 2009 Carolyn rode her scooter from her apartment to the trash room of her building to throw out her garbage. She stopped alongside the dumpster and before she could lift up the bag of trash, her seat broke and she fell backwards. The following is a photograph of Carolyn’s scooter after the seat broke.:
Carolyn’s disability precluded her from pulling herself up. Six hours later she was found by a neighbor still sitting in her scooter seat but collapsed backward like a rag doll. She was dead from “positional asphyxia,” an inability to breathe caused by the contorted position of her trachea.
We were hired by Carolyn’s 42 year old daughter who was incensed that her mother died so needlessly. We immediately launched an investigation and were shocked by what we learned. With the help of top experts we learned that the seat on the Daytona scooter was made of cheap, recycled plastic and was not strong enough to support its advertised weight limit. The seat had never been properly tested by the Taiwanese manufacturer or the U.S. importer, was not subject to any form of government regulation and was destined to fail. Our investigation included the purchase of an identical scooter and having the seat tested at a well respected testing facility at the University of Pittsburgh. Incredibly, the seat on our test scooter failed in the exact same location as Carolyn Sorenson’s seat; the failures in both seats were indistinguishable.
We have serious concerns about the safety of these plastic scooter seats and have reported the matter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and to the FDA.
On March 31, 2011 the Defendants agreed to settle this case for an amount which it insisted remain confidential.