Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Tarpon Springs crossbow maker settles swath of injury lawsuits

TARPON SPRINGS — A local crossbow maker that has faced criticism over the safety of its products has recently settled lawsuits with several customers.

But many are still active, and some additional suits have been filed in circuit court as recently as last month against Tarpon-Springs based Barnett Crossbows, its parent company and an affiliate company.

The lawsuits have similar claims: While using the crossbows, the string snapped back on the shooter’s thumb, causing injuries ranging from fractures to amputations. The issue, the suits say, is that Barnett manufactured its bows without a finger or thumb guard and didn’t have adequate safety warnings included with the bows.

"It’s possible to design this so that it works just as well, but it doesn’t have the risk," said Joseph Saunders, a St. Petersburg lawyer representing several complainants.

Ten cases closed in September after the parties reached settlements, with an 11th settled last month, Pinellas County court records show. At least five have been filed this year between September and November. Others are still active from years ago, were dismissed or have been moved to federal court.

Barnett representatives deferred comment to Chicago attorney Christopher Sheean. Sheean, citing confidentiality, declined to comment on the settlements, other than to say it made "economic sense to resolve the cases for less than what it would cost to try them."

He declined to comment on specifics of pending cases but said in general, Barnett "strongly believes" in its products and makes improvements as it sees fit. He would not say what those changes were or if they came out of the legal disputes.

"Barnett is a responsible company that has continued to make changes to the crossbows," he said. "The bowstring of a crossbow is a hazard that cannot be removed from the product."

Saunders acknowledged the company has taken steps in recent years to make the bows safer, but old models are still circulating online and in stores. Many of the lawsuits mentioned the Jackal, a model that no longer appears on Barnett’s website. Several crossbow models were recalled in December 2016 but for a different problem than what is alleged in the lawsuits.

Barnett was the first company to offer relatively cheap crossbows that were mass produced and sold, said Dave Chevalier, founder of Crossbow Warriors, a group based in Michigan that promotes crossbow safety and education. While a quality crossbow ran for $500 or more, he said, Barnett was selling bows in the $299 range, he said.

"They had to cheapen things up, and that’s how they did it — cutting some of the corners," he said.

The cheapest adult bow listed on the website is the Recruit Recurve for $199.99. The Jackal ran for $349 when it was available, according to Tampa Bay Times archives.

The sport has also grown in popularity thanks to pop culture appearances in The Walking Dead and the Hunger Games, said Bill Pimm, president of USA Crossbows. Barnett, and all crossbow makers, have been forced to improve their quality as popularity rises and more manufacturers pop up.

"As a company, Barnett has improved," he said. "I don’t know the reasons for it, but there’s a lot of competition now."

Some issues can be boiled down to user error, Pimm said, but with Barnett’s older models, there was more going on, he said. Still, when it comes to crossbow safety, both Pimm and Chevalier said there aren’t many resources or requirements.

But at least one organization is trying to change that. Marilyn Bentz, executive director of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, said her organization is working on developing a curriculum for a crossbow safety certification course.

"The whole sport of using crossbows has expanded so quickly," she said, "I think in some ways the education piece has been overlooked in many states."

Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or [email protected] Follow @kathrynvarn.

Comments
Man rescued after boat swept away, capsizes in Little Manatee River

Man rescued after boat swept away, capsizes in Little Manatee River

RUSKIN — A man was rescued early Thursday morning after Hillsborough County deputies say his boat was swept away by a strong tide and capsized in the Little Manatee River.According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, a 911 call was received ...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Rubio taken to task; Romano on the GOP lobby; St. Pete’s World Liquors sign finds new home; what if Rays know what they’re doing?

The Daystarter: Rubio taken to task; Romano on the GOP lobby; St. Pete’s World Liquors sign finds new home; what if Rays know what they’re doing?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• Temperatures peaked Wednesday, but don’t expect cooler air to return just yet. Highs will remain in the mid 80s through next week, according to 10Weather WTSP. And it will re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Supercross brings athletes — not just motorcycle riders — to Tampa

Supercross brings athletes — not just motorcycle riders — to Tampa

TAMPA — When breaking down the competitive skill in Saturday night’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship Series event at Raymond James Stadium, you won’t find an analysis of 40-yard dash times, bench-press weights or vertical-leap measurements...
Published: 02/22/18

Ernest Hooper: Andrew Young, in Tampa for award, holds up crown of inspiration at 85

Theologian and Morehouse College graduate Howard Thurman, a man who influenced many of the nation’s civil rights leaders, once issued a challenge to students at the famed Atlanta school.Over the heads of her students, Morehouse holds a crown that she...
Published: 02/22/18
CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CareerSource jobs chief Edward Peachey could soon be out of work

CLEARWATER — The heads of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards will hold emergency meetings in the coming days to consider firing president and CEO Edward Peachey. Jack Geller, board chairman of CareerSource Pinellas, and Dick Peck, chair...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they made threats against their respective schools, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry out those threats, deput...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

TAMPA — Former Florida state Rep. Robert Wallace ended his life Monday night by jumping from a Dale Mabry Highway overpass, records show. He was 65.At least one witness saw Wallace plunge 40 to 50 feet onto Gunn Highway, according to a Hillsborough C...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Two male students arrested for threatening their schools; no weapons found

Two male students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they made threats against their respective schools, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry out those threats, deput...
Updated: 10 hours ago