A stuntwoman and her husband are suing the manufacturer of the motorcycle she was riding when she was severely injured during a choreographed stunt routine at the United Center in 2015.
Sarah Whitmore Smage suffered a traumatic brain injury when the Zero FX motorcycle she was riding broke into multiple pieces during a September 2015 performance of Marvel Universe Live — a touring, theatrical show based around Marvel comic book characters — at the United Center, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Because of her injuries, Smage “was transformed from a 31-year-old extreme sport superstar and four-time national motocross champion to a substantially disabled person,” according to court documents.
The 10-count suit also seeks damages from Feld Motor Sports, which purchased the motorcycles for use in the Marvel Universe Live tour and was negligent in their maintenance, the suit says.
The Zero FX motorcycle Smage was riding was manufactured by Zero Motorcycles, Inc. and purchased by Feld Motor Sports in February 2014 ahead of the show, according to the suit. The bikes were purchased “for specific use in motorcycle stunt shows, including the Marvel Universe Live show.”
But as Smage completed a jump “from a relatively small ramp” at the Sept. 12, 2015 show, the motorcycle suddenly and without warning broke into several pieces, the suit said. Smage was thrown from the bike and hit her head, suffering a brain injury that led to balance issues, chronic headaches and cognitive deficits.
The suit accuses Zero Motorcycles of producing a defective motorcycle that was insufficiently built for the purposes it was intended to be used for. Furthermore, the company was negligent when the manual and maintenance schedule did not address proper testing and inspection of the motorcycle’s frame.
Feld Motor Sports is also accused of negligence by the suit, which says the company did not select a safe motorcycle for the performance and failed to properly inspect the motorcycle. A Feld representative said it is the company’s policy not to comment on lawsuits.
The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages from the two companies. Zero Motorcycles did not return messages seeking comment.