Photo by Dennis Bratland. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
A 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 motorcycle, similar to the one Derrek Tran owned. Photo by Dennis Bratland. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The mother of a Temple City man killed in a crash on the Harbor (110) Freeway sued Irvine-based Kawasaki Tuesday, alleging his death was the result of a defect in his new  Ninja 300 motorcycle.

Veronica Phan, the mother of 21-year-old Derrek Tran, filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Kawasaki Motors Corp. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. She is seeking unspecified damages on allegations of wrongful death, manufacturing and design defects and negligence.

A Kawasaki representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Kawasaki marketed its Ninja 300 sportbike-style motorcycle with an emphasis on its “speed, acceleration and handling.” The 2013 model was sold with the ad slogan, “The Rush is Addictive,” the suit says.

Kawasaki also stated in its marketing materials that the Ninja 300 is “manufactured to provide you optimum safety and convenience,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff alleges Kawasaki built and sold more than 11,000 Ninja 300 models that had defective electronic control units that were supposed to control such key operations as speed and RPM. An improper setting in the ECU caused the 2013 Ninja 300 to “unexpectedly stall while the vehicle is accelerating,” the suit states.

Kawasaki knew of the problem in 2012, the suit alleges.

Tran was riding his motorcycle on Oct. 7, 2012, when he slowed down to avoid a car merging into his lane. Witnesses said that after he decelerated, he lost control and slid to a stop in the middle of the freeway, according to the lawsuit.

“Tran was barely able to rise to his knees before he was struck and killed by another vehicle on the freeway,” the suit says.

A year after her son’s death, Phan received a warning and recall notice concerning the Kawasaki deceleration problems, according to her court papers. The notice included a warning, “Do not ride your motorcycle until the repair has been completed,” according to the lawsuit.

City News Service

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