Don't remove gray thing. And don't paddle a rec boat on a class II river

Or maybe, more simply, don’t buy a kayak at a big box store…

Salem pair sues Dick’s Sporting Goods after kayaks capsize in Santiam River

Oh my. Those rec boats would have been under water with all the ensuing events and injuries even with the grey thing still in the bow. But that a Dick’s employee actually removed the grey foam at the bow before the rec boat left the store, thinking it was packing material… Dick’s is on the hook for this one and frankly deserves to be. No help to them that one of the equally ignorant paddlers is a DA or something.

Note that the suit says the paddlers got a solid 6 digits worth of permanent injury partially due to their insistence on rescuing a couple of boats that weren’t worth more than a couple hundred bucks each once they had gone down the river.

Here is the link for the article. Requires answering a survey question to see enough to get any details.

It is spring. Will be more stories…

Oh my goodness. This one’s a classic. IF the allegations are true against the box store employees.

I bet that Dick’s employee was a long time P netter and read about the grey thing

This is STILL just another example of a couple of complete morons getting themselves in trouble and wanting to put the blame on someone else. Yeah, removal of “the gray thing” was stupid on the part of the store employees, but the gray thing displaces such a small amount of water in comparison with all that within a swamped rec boat that I am sure these two paddling idiots would have had exactly the same problem and exactly the same injuries had the gray thing been left in place.

They had the wrong boats, and no skirts, so what the hell did they expect would happen? The fact that they had no reasonable concept of what was absolutely inevitable is what’s most important here. Absence of the gray thing is much less significant. If Dicks loses this battle, they sure don’t deserve to take the entire blame - not even close. But I think most would agree that the only thing that matters in a court of law is how deep one’s pockets are, and that’s what makes so many of these cases turn into something that is absolutely criminal - and I’m talking about the actions of those filing the suit. This kind of thing makes me ill.

Old Town may also be vulnerable for not putting a “Do not remove” sticker on the Grey Thing.
Just the way it works…

Hi Grayhawk. To be clear, l agree that removal of the grey thing cannot be blamed for this by anyone who has a clue. Tried to say that above. But l also think that any court will say that Dicks is responsible for making sure its employees know the diff between flotation and plastic wrap. Especially since everyone who reviews this in a court will not have a clue. And you know the manufacturer is going to land hard on that.

I am kind of stuck on the effort made to retrieve the POS boats. Either their injuries have been exaggerated ( gee maybe…) or these folks had a real different approach to prioritizing things than me.

“gee maybe…” the injuries are exaggerated.

That’s what I am thinking. The fact that the one person is a law professional means there’s no chance that the events about this case are going to be portrayed with the slightest shred of integrity (we have some gigantic ambulance-chasing firms around here, and the way they present their side of injury lawsuits won (which they now can freely do on radio and TV), at least in cases where the events are in some way knowable, is just asinine. As an example that one firm was particularly proud of themselves about, should a farmer who crawls under a heavy machine that he has jacked up and supported in the most flimsey and makeshift way imaginable be able to sue the manufacturer of the machine when his own poorly-conceived blocking system fails? If you listen to these guys, the answer is absolutely yes - and because of deep-pockets logic in the courtroom and ordinary people off the street (otherwise known as jurors) being incredibly stupid, they will win every time.

Stupid people are responsible all the warning labels we see.

lots of mistakes made, but the biggest one is that the participants aren’t accepting responsibility for their own actions (stupidity). Honestly, you go into a big box store, don’t have a clue and buy a cheap kayak (from an equally clueless sales staff) and things don’t turn out all right so you think its okay to sue? Rec boats have limited flotation even with the “gray thing” installed, The model they chose has a humongous open cockpit, unfortunately for dicks they promote it as “gliding even in choppy waters” thus encouraging folks to take it where it doesn’t belong. I’m not feeling a bit sympathetic to the retailer, the sales staff, the manufacturer, and most of all the participants.

@Celia said:
But l also think that any court will say that Dicks is responsible for making sure its employees know the diff between flotation and plastic wrap. Especially since everyone who reviews this in a court will not have a clue. And you know the manufacturer is going to land hard on that.

We don’t know if the employee(s) actually removed the flotation. I can’t imagine employees taking a hack saw to a couple of new boats without management or someone else on the floor asking what they were doing. I’d love to see the answer to the complaint.
There are always two sides to every story.

The attorney and his friend were so clueless, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if the material allegedly removed was actual packing and not flotation. No photos of the kayaks in question that I could find. I think he and his friend are slimeballs because of their refusal to accept personal responsibility for their own bad choices.

Regardless, this lawsuit will never see a jury or trial judge. The guy who filed it is an attorney - whose salary and benefits used to be paid by the taxpayers but for whatever reason he’s no longer on that payroll but in private practice. Thus he’s paying his own way now and possibly support staff. He knows how the system works and knows that the case will be mediated and/or settled. His only cost so far is the filing and service fees and he can write off his costs as a business expense. Easy money for him and his paddling buddy …but I wouldn’t put it past him to charge that buddy a contingency fee on any settlement she may receive.

The J.D. after his name clearly didn’t endow him with common sense, honor, or ethics.

Rookie - the story portion l read said that a store employee got tools and helped them remove the flotation, thinking it was packing material. I don’t know enough about these rec boats to know exactly what effort that would have taken. But if it is remotely close that puts Dicks on the hook more.

It is a foam block glued to the hull and deck and would take definite effort to remove.

Yeah, l am familiar with them. These folks were all idiots. Heck only knows what they may have done. I can share stories from my own family with rec kayaks that would sound at least as stupid. Like the idea that a high tide won’t carry away an Otter if it is upside down, not tied to anything. Two college degrees involved there and one of the boats was never found. I suspect it became a new home to lobsters in deep water.

I can’t imagine a store employee going to the time trouble and rounding up of tools to saw out a block… He might have tried to remove it by hand but in my experience anything you want to modify you have to do yourself after the sale.

Rec kayaks aren’t t he issue… The issue is the lack of grey thing in the buyers head.

There may be too much credit being given to the buyer. What if the same kind of arrogant sob who would bring this suit to start with was upset about leaving the store with what they thought was packing material left in the boat? Has no one here worked retail in their younger days?

Just to illustrate what this is all about, here’s a Youtube video of a “review” of the kayak in question, an Old Town “Trip” that seems to be one of those cheapoid models they make for big box stores (like Perception’s “Sport” division). At time stamp 1:20 you can see into the bow as the guy schleps it to his truck – the foam block is a support pillar, NOT flotation. These are so thinly molded they put that pillar in to keep the bow deck from caving in while they are nested in the shipping container from China and then to prevent it from crushing when somebody sits on the boat while ashore. It is no more “flotation” than similar anti-crush pillars in whitewater boats (which ww boaters flank with split float bags). (not to mention that, as is clear in the video, these kayaks have gaping cockpits – the guys are paddling with their knees several inches above the coaming. Taking such a boat in moving water is insanity.)

I doubt the foam pillar is non-absorbent minicell type to begin with and is probably less than a cubic foot of material, maybe closer to a half a cubic foot. These boats have a 60 to 70 gallon volume. A half cubic foot of water weighs 30 pounds and 70 gallons of water weighs 584 pounds meaning a fully swamped 50 pound Trip kayak weighs 634 pounds without “the grey/white thing” and about 600 with it in place… That simple fact alone should be enough to get this junk lawsuit dismissed out of hand.

And it SHOULD be dismissed and called out. It is publicized stupidity like this that can evolve into restrictions on paddler access and even availability of the products we love and need for our preferred recreation. We went through that for decades in the climbing community. The company that is now Patagonia had to file for bankruptcy and close down their innovative climbing gear division due to a spurious “wrongful death/defective product” lawsuit by the family of a guy who died due to mis-using a harness that they made. Eastern Mountain Sports had to settle on a similar suit several decades ago when a customer bought only one jumar (a locking cam rope ascender – these are usually used in pairs except for raising haul bags). The customer misused the tool and was badly injured but the court was going to rule that it was EMS’ “fault” for not “instructing the customer in all aspects of safe use at point of sale.”

The outdoor club I have belonged to since 1972 has fought numerous battles over access issues to climbing areas on public lands that were triggered by non-climbers having accidents while goofing around on cliffs (we came upon a bunch of ROTC cadets once at one such rock climbing area “rappelling” over 60’ overhanging cliffs using polypropolene ski tow rope and “harnesses” made of binder twine! ) The club has 5 figures invested in an “Access Fund” through which we support groups who are active in fighting public policy and private owner restrictions on use of recreational areas. And we offer cheap or free instruction in skills and safety in outdoor sports. We should not have to suffer for the carelessness of others.

This case also illustrates (what we already know) that big box stores like Dick’s are really not even minimally qualified to advise customers on safe application of the products that they buy. But should they be legally required to do that? It really is a case of “caveat emptor” (“let the buyer beware”). The cashier at the grocery store isn’t obligated to tell you not to drink the Drano you are buying, nor should they be. When I worked for an electrical materials distributor I was instructed (for liability reasons) to NOT give customers advise on installation if they asked such questions. This despite the fact that I was a licensed electrician and electrical inspector at the time. If a customer asked questions that indicated they were going to attempt electrical work without understanding what they were doing we were to tell them that they should leave it to a licensed electrician. Yet whenever I am in the electrical aisle of Home Depot I overhear the guys in orange aprons giving advice, sometimes about working with live circuits. Often the advice is wrong and I butt in. But I question HD’s policies – they could leave themselves open to lawsuits by having their sales clerks give such advice if it leads to injury or death.

Maybe kayaks need detailed “idiot labels” plastered to the inside, particularly in these plastic bathtub boats that have proliferated like cockroaches in the past couple of decades. I actually spotted a “kayak-shaped object” in a farm supply store recently, though seeing them in a TJ Maxx was probably the ultimate incongruity.

Wow, Willow, your write-up should be entered in this case as evidence. I particularly liked the analogy of the grocery-store cashier have no obligation to tell the shopper about the proper use of Drano. There’s so much “noise” on this message board about the so-called responsibility of sales staff of big-box stores to “educate” the buyer about their kayaks, and I’ve always bitten my tongue on that one because some longtime posters would pounce on me over that, but I think you nailed it.

I’d really like to see the people bringing this suit publicly humiliated for their stupidity and total lack of morals. They deserve to have their reputations self-ruined.

Thanks Willowleaf. Unfortunately I can see this coming around to the sane absurdity as the case in NY, where an immigrant woman was accused of purposely drowning her fiance by opening up the drain plug. I don’t recall if anyone ever established how and when the drain plug was opened, maybe even if it was while the guy was in the boat. But that went on and on regardless of the fundamental problem being in the wrong boat in chilly water with questionable swimming abilities/options.

Whether that pillar would have helped will be largely framed by the guy who is suing. Regardless of its place in the world. Given that it is packing material it can be made to go away eventually as an issue. But the drain plug thing went on for something like 4 years, 3 anyway.

Canoe& Kayak magazine’s (can we still call them a magazine if they no longer publish a print version?) take: