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[US] - Rider sues Harley Davidson for crash - he thought he had ABS. HD cleared.

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by robsalvv, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_19586515

    Harley-Davidson cleared of blame in accident; rider thought he had ABS

    Quickly and resoundingly, a Sacramento Superior Court jury exonerated Harley-Davidson of blame Monday in a 2009 motorcycle accident that left a woman with severe brain injuries.

    The panel that spent barely half a day in deliberations said the manufacturer's design of the 2008 Road Glide cruiser on which the woman was a passenger was not defective. Nor did the people who sold it misrepresent to her that it had an anti-lock braking system, the jury found.

    "I have really nice clients and they didn't do anything wrong," said James William Rushford, the local attorney who represented Harley-Davison of Sacramento, after the jury found in favor of the defendants.

    The dealership's Jay Westbrook said he's been nervous ''every day, every minute" for the past two years as a result of the allegations contained in the lawsuit filed by 50-year-old Judy Wilson of Lincoln.

    She had been injured in a crash April 11, 2009, on Highway 99. The motorcycle's driver, her now-estranged husband, hit the brakes when traffic backed up, she said; the rear wheel locked and the bike went into a slide.

    Wilson said a salesman at Harley-Davidson of Sacramento told her the bike came equipped with an anti-lock braking system, or ABS. She also claimed that an icon on the Harley's tachometer made her and her husband think the bike had an ABS when it did not.

    Lawyers for the manufacturer said the icon is present on the display of all the bikes, whether or
    not they have ABS; the manual describes how the icon illuminates to indicate that the system is working.The dealer's attorney flatly denied anybody at the business ever told Wilson or her husband that the motorcycle had anti-lock brakes.

    Juror Ken Misener said in an interview Monday that he thought the evidence at trial was ''pretty overwhelming" for the defense.

    "The evidence showed and the experts showed there was no problem with (the icon) until this incident," the 29-year-old director of sales for a local security company said.

    Misener said he didn't believe the salesman told her the motorcycle had ABS brakes. "It obviously didn't cause this accident," he said.

    Plaintiffs lawyer William L. Veen of San Francisco said the verdict came as a ''shock."

    Veen said jurors told him Wilson's husband, Jack Wilson, had plenty of time -- 15 months -- to learn how to operate the vehicle from the time they bought it until the accident.

    The lawyer said Judy Wilson has lifetime disabling brain injuries and will now apply to get on Social Security disability.

    He said his client turned down a pretrial settlement offer of $900,000, an amount that would have left her with next to nothing after a medical lien, experts' costs and his own fees were deducted.

    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Once again, rider skill error, jumping on the rear brake, caused a fall. Yes, ABS would have saved the fall, but a panic stomp of the rear with ABS going will mean a very much longer braking effort than a properly skilled use of the brake. The rider may have collided with traffic while remaining vertical if they had ABS... what would their excuse have been then?

    If you get ABS, you still gotta know how to brake a bike.

  2. Really?? Where did you get your law degree?
  3. well, she is now almost double that in debt, as i bet she will have to pay court costs, and wouldnt suprise me if she recieved harleys law fees...

    i bet her lawyer wanted to make a name for himself. and saw it as win, win. he wins, he gets as name.... he loses he still earns signifiaant moolah in his fees

    dont think this stuff doesnt happen hear.
    (ive heard people try and get payment, as they lost it down the street on new tires........
    it just got the tires, so it must be the dealers fault)
  4. I'm faaaarly sure that the protection against spurious lawsuits of 'awarding costs' isn't a thing over there, is it?
  5. I wonder how big the ABS "icon" is on the tacho. These guys should have known the capabilities of their own bike, but someone who just hops on a bike it's a bit of a worry potentially.
  6. Slight tangent.... I have one car with ABS and one without. I drive and brake in accordence to the feel of the car.... Not whether it has ABS or not. In fact when I first experienced ABS in my car, I coined the phrase "Ain't Bloody Stopping" because that's what it felt like. BUT you adapt to the vehicle you drive.

    Sounds like he hadn't ridden the bike much to get a feel for what he could or shouldn't be doing within the confines of the bike set up!!....

    ABS or not ...
  7. I accidently locked up my rear brake once in a panic situation. You know what I did, I eased off the rear, and pulled the front a wee bit harder! Thats how it's meant to work right???

    Dead set, what a bunch of penuts.
  8. Maybe Hardley riders should learn to use their front brakes?
  9. Give this man a cigar.
  10. Well. The lawyer was "shocked," even after he had a chance to view the case and saw the evidence for himself. He's also obviously overcharging for his frankly shitty services if he managed by some miracle to even obtain a settlement offer, and it really shows how much he cared for his client.

    Car or bike, don't drive in a situation beyond your braking capability....
  11. Of course, their claim that the salesman told them it had ABS could be true, for all anyone knows. It's not at all hard to believe. They just had no proof.

    But it also again raises the question of tech like ABS causing people to modify their behaviour as a result, thinking the machinery will take care of things beyond what it really can. If he really did think the bike had it, was he taking more risks?

    Also, the rear brake on a cruiser, and two up at that, does a lot more stopping than most other types of bikes. Doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't a hopeless rider though, but routinely using the rear could be habit-forming.

    There's too many ifs when just reading about it. Two minutes in person with the bloke might tell anyone he's an Unrider.

    But IF the sales guy told them it had it, and there's a spot on the instruments that seemed consistent with that, then you couldn't reasonably expect someone to be mechanically savvy enough to know otherwise. Some would be, but plenty others just ride and take the bike in for service, not even needing to lube and adjust a chain in this case.

    The precedent a ruling that went the other way could have set might have been major (think Ford Pinto), so the quality and price of H-D's representation in this one might well have been the best justice money can buy.
  12. US compensation lawyers typically work on no win no pay basis, they take 33% of the payout when they win. I was rear ended twice driving in the States, each time there were lawyers knocking on my door wanting to represent me. So yea no surprise they want to sue for more.

    In both cases I wasn't injured, so there weren't million dollar law sues. The calculation goes like, say the cost of repair (comprehensive insurance works differently over there) + medical expenses + car rental + loss of income, etc adds up to $10k, they will sue for a figure between $30k to $60k which is unlikely to go to trial.

    The insurance company will negotiate and may agree to pay $30k. Then $10k goes to the lawyer, $10k pays all the bills, the remaining $10k pays for "pain and suffering" and inconvenience. Everyone gets something, that's why they like to sue.
  13. harleys dont ride like a sport/commuter bike, the weight distribution means that the rear does a significant amount of breaking (shure it still uses the front for the majority, but its not the 90/10) i havent ridden a harley or a cruiser, but its common to get people doing twin front conversions.

    problem is he/she expected a harley to stop... they arent known for that for a reason
  14. Spot on about the rider. How do you ride a new bike with a new braking system for 15months without going into a car park and doing some practice to understand how it impacts the bike?? That to me is negligent. And he also didn't read the frigging manual because he would have at least twigged that the ABS had a fault if the status light wasn't part of the start up tests. ](*,)

    Reading between the lines, I reckon this guy is the perfect example of a double blind single data point about ABS. He rode like he had it, but he didn't have it and he stomped on the rear in panic - or indeed with full belief that the ABS would deal with it, and it went pear shaped.

    It probably would have gone pear shaped anyway - vertical upright crash instead...

    From my reading between the lines of the few articles out there about this case, the lawsuit never had a hope of being won.
  15. and no costs to whoever's defending if the lawsuit is completely spurious, right Lu? i.e. safe to sue, expensive to be sued? Daft~
  16. I doubt that. He ****ed up and was looking for someone to blame. I doubt ABS would have entered his mind til someone told him, "shame you didn't have ABS, you would have stayed up."
  17. Actually, after just re-reading bits of it. It seems the pilion was the one sueing Harley. So really she should have gone after the rider, as he was the one that stuffed up. But I'm assuming he had no money, so Harley was the more obvious target.
  18. Pillion and rider were married at the time - now estranged. Apparently she was there when they bought the bike.
  19. I think HD was probably in the right on this one but having said that, an individual versus a huge corporation - no ****ing chance.
    She was offered a substantial out of court settlement (though I cant imagine why) and chose not to take it. More fool her.
  20. i'd like to see this instrument panel that made them thing they had abs.