The manual for the L120 John Deere mower reads:
It also warns:
Using The Reverse Implement Option (RIO)
CAUTION: Avoid injury! Rotating blades are dangerous. Children or bystanders may be injured by runover and rotating blades.
NOTE: Backing up while the mower is engaged is strongly discouraged. The Reverse Implement Option should be used only when operating another attachment or when the operator deems it necessary to reposition the machine with the mower engaged.
Alas, on March 25, 2007, Corey Nicklin didn’t follow the instructions, his three-year-old son Conor Jack Nicklin was behind him, and the warnings came to pass, with fairly gruesome injuries to the boy’s left leg. This is, of course, as a lawsuit filed in St. Clair County court alleges, the fault of John Deere and Home Depot. (Ann Knef, “Home Depot, John Deere named in child’s lawn mower accident suit”, Madison County Record, Jun. 25). The suit alleges that “The subject lawn mower is defectively designed in that it should have been designed in a manner that does not allow for the mower to be operated with its blades moving in reverse.” In other words, because someone might not follow instructions, the rest of us should be deprived of a feature we might want to use. Too, the suit implausibly claims a failure to warn; perhaps the warning label should have specified “Your three-year-old son Conor” rather than just “children.”