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Iditarod musher Mitch Seavey suing knife company over blade design

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published May 12, 2012

According to the Anchorage Daily News, former Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey is suing the Oregon company that made a knife with which Seavey nearly sliced off his index finger as well as Sportsman's Warehouse, where he purchased the blade.

Seavey was using a knife with a locking blade that has a gut hook mushers frequently use to slice a plastic tie that secures straw bales. The suit contends that a lever or button near the middle of the handle can be depressed while the knife is being used, potentially allowing the blade to close on a user's fingers.

The defendant is Kershaw Knives, owned by KAI USA Ltd. of Japan.

The incident happened in Ophir during the 2011 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The damage done to Mitch's right hand left him so debilitated that race marshall Mark Nordman ordered Seavey withdrawn from the race. The digit was later reattached by doctors.

At the time of the incident, Seavey was in fourth place behind four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake. John Baker of Kotzebue would eventually win and set a new race record. Shortly after the accident, Seavey's father Dan, a pioneer Iditarod musher, called the accident "devastating. I'm guessing he wanted to wrap and old sock around it and keep going."

Mitch's son Dallas, 25, this year became the youngest champion in Iditarod history.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court demands $100,000 in lost wages and other damages. The Iditarod champion wins a check for $50,400 and a new Dodge truck for finishing first. Typically, numerous promotional opportunities also become available.

Fairbanks lawyer John Tiemessen, representing Sportsman's Warehouse, told the Daily News: "Mr. Seavey bears the burden of proving all of his damages, including his claim that but for cutting his finger, he would have won the Iditarod. As Mr. Seavey probably knows better than most, there is a wide gulf between hoping you will win, even thinking you might win, and actually winning the race."

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