Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mitch Seavey Sues Kershaw and Sportsman Warehouse

According to an article in several Alaska newspapers, including the Alaska Dispatch, Iditarod racer and previous champion Mitch Seavey is suing the manufacturer of the Kershaw brand knife that nearly severed his finger and resulted in his being involuntarily withdrawn from the 2011.  The sporting goods store that sold him the knife is also named in the action. 

What I find surprising is that Seavey isn't suing to recover the cost of medical care, which one would think he might easily win.  Instead, he and his lawyer are asking for damages from lost income under the assumption that Seavey would have won the race had he been permitted to continue. 

Seavey was using the gut-hook feature of a folding hunting knife when the knife inadvertently closed, nearly amputating his right index finger.  The suit alleges that the design of the knife is faulty because the blade release mechanism is located in the center of the handle, exactly where one would normally grip the knife when using the gut hook.  Ironically, Seavey's accident in 2011 was witnessed by Jake Berkowitz, who was withdrawn late in this this year's race after slicing his own hand open with a knife while cutting up frozen fish for his dogs.

Personally, I've never seen much practical use for a 'gut hook' on an outdoorsman's knife, but then again I've never owned a knife equipped with such a hook.  When running dogs I always have at least one, and frequently 2 or 3 knives on my body.  When I looked at a photo of Mitch's knife it became pretty clear how the accident happened.  Whether or not it was a result of negligence on the part of the designer and manufacturer will be determined in a court of law. 


  1. It's a folding knife - inherently unsafe. I switched to a custom fixed blade after experimenting with my Emerson. I found that with the blade under pressure it was very easy to unlock it. In normal use this wouldn't happen, but in any extreme circumstance it becomes much more likely.

    I'm guessing they are asking for the loss of the winning sum as it must greatly exceed his medical expenses. I think that's a risky bet as there was no guarantee he would have won.

  2. I just found a YouTube video where Seavey demonstrates how the accident happens. It's a standard lockback - I think his lawsuit is doomed.