University alum reinvents wheel

A 1980 graduate of this university has invented an improved version of the classic Radio Flyer little red wagon, according to the Virginian-Pilot. Virginia Beach’s Richard Shapiro, an injury trial lawyer by trade, has taken out 15 patents on his improved wagon, which features wheels that fold up into the cart for easier storage.

The Radio Flyer company also licensed one of his other inventions — a handle that, rather than sticking up in the air, folds into the cart.

Not as good.

Way better. (Children not included)

While Shapiro told the Virginian-Pilot that he was not allowed to say how much he’s being paid for the innovation, there is no doubt Radio Flyer is kicking itself for not inventing it like, 94 years ago, when it also made a lot of sense and was not at all impossible to do.

The cheapest wagon with Shapiro’s innovation is the Radio Flyer “Outback Wagon,” in which you can wheel your child about town for only $119.99. We were originally confused as to why a glorified take-out container cost more than a flat-screen TV, but Radio Flyer has really stepped up its game with the Outback: It’s got seat belts.

"Safer than a Kia"

It should be noted that if your child requires a Radio Flyer seat belt, you should probably work on your wagon-maneuvering skills.

Of equal cost is Shapiro’s design that includes both the folding handle (hurrah!) and the folding wheels: It’s called the “Hideaway Pancake Flat Wagon,” for sale on by Shapiro’s Hideaway Pancake Flat Folding Wagons company. It appears “hideaway pancake” is not at all a sexual euphemism and is actually a reference to how the wagon folds flat.

A shrewd double entendre on the part of the innovative Terp lawyer nonetheless. And, as the Virginian-Pilot points out, Shapiro has a history of being shrewd: Shapiro once got an $8.6 million settlement for a man who sued his employer when he got lung cancer — the man smoked for 20 years, but it sounds like Shapiro somehow convinced the court that it was the employer who gave the man cancer, not the cigarettes. Boom. Big pile of money.

It’s a good thing Shapiro knows how to litigate, too — who knows how many lawsuits he’s going to get from parents after their wagon folds up on their kids doing 40 down a hill.

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