A cyclist who suffered a concussion and fractured his shoulder after falling off his bike during the 2002 Acura L.A. Bike Tour has lost a negligence claim against the race's operators.

The tour is a 20-mile race that takes place on the same day as the annual Los Angeles Marathon. In March 2002, Michael Carpenter, an experienced rider, fell off his bike after hitting a speed bump near the University of Southern California campus at 20 miles per hour. Carpenter claimed he and other riders were directed to the street by a race official.

In a suit filed in September 2002, Carpenter submitted a civil engineer's testimony that the speed bump had a slope 37 percent greater than most speed bumps and caused a "dangerous condition for bicycle riders." Also testifying was a world champion bicyclist who claimed he had never been on a tour with a speed bump in his 35 years of riding events.

Carpenter also claimed a waiver he signed on the day of the race was printed in small type and failed to explain that it released Los Angeles Marathon Inc., which operates the ride, from liability. The operator, along with American Honda Motor Co. Inc., which sponsors the tour, argued the waiver permitted them to throw out the case.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge agreed with the tour organizers, and a three-judge panel in 2nd Appellate District affirmed the decision on Nov. 16.
Marvin Gelfand, a partner at Gelfand Rappaport & Glaser LLP who represents Los Angeles Marathon and American Honda, called the case "extremely unusual."

"This course has been used for so many years by well into the six-digits of riders, and Carpenter is the only person who has ever said anything about the negligent design," he said.

Robert Stoll, a partner at Stoll Nussbaum & Polakov PC representing Carpenter, did not return calls.

MoFo Manager

A. Max Olson was named the new managing partner of Morrison & Foerster LLP's Los Angeles office last month.

Olson, an intellectual property partner who headed the litigation department at the firm's Tokyo office from 1996 to 2000, replaced David Babbe, an insurance and professional liability partner who ran the local office for almost eight years.

"One of the great things about working in Japan is I got to work with lawyers in all 19 offices around the world," Olson said. "That's maybe one of the reasons why partners here in L.A. would think I would be good at this job."

Olson said he would like to grow the 110-attorney office, particularly in intellectual property and corporate finance. His clients have included Sega Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. He also represented Olympic gymnast Paul Hamm in his recent fight to keep his gold medal.

Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at abronstad@labusinessjournal.com .

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