Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wilson loses ABS Light Case against H-D

Judy Wilson loses ABS Light Case against Harley-Davidson

A Sacramento Superior Court jury has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Harley-Davidson involving a 2009 accident that left one of the plaintiffs with severe brain injuries.
Judy Wilson was injured in an April 11, 2009, crash after her husband, Jack, locked the rear wheel of his non-ABS equipped 2008 Harley-Davidson Road Glide. The plaintiffs contended they believed their  was equipped with ABS because the instrument panel had an ABS indicator icon and from the salesperson’s sales pitch. The Wilsons sought $2.6 million in damages.
The defense argued the salesperson never said the model was equipped with ABS. Harley-Davidson lawyers argued ABS and non-ABS versions of the same model have identical instrument panels, with the indicator light disabled on non-ABS versions. The defense argued it was not a manufacturer defect to have a position on the instrument panel for an ABS indicator for models without ABS.

The jury deliberated for just half a day before ruling there was no defect and the dealership did not mislead the plaintiffs about whether the Road Glide was equipped with ABS.
The case could have had far-reaching consequences for motorcycle manufacturers if the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. If they ruled a defect existed, manufacturers could have to produce separate instrument panels for the same models with or without ABS.

[Source: Sacramento Bee]

It was an interesting legal case because jury decision could have affected production for many motorcycle manufacturers. Background: In 2009 Judy Wilson, 50, was riding on the back of her husband 2008 Road Glide when he crashed and she suffered severe brain damage. She joined her now estranged husband in a lawsuit against Harley-Davidson where both claimed that the Harley had a defective design because the tachometer was featuring an ABS icon that made them think that the Road Glide was equipped with anti-lock brakes when it didn’t.

Yellow ABS Light shows in dashboard
Testimony of husband Jack Wilson was that he used the rear brake on the motorcycle thinking it had an ABS system when traffic backed up on him on the freeway. The brakes then locked up and sent the bike into a slide, throwing his wife to the pavement.  His argument was that by putting an ABS icon on the tachometer, Harley-davidson suggested that the Road Glide had ABS brake. He also claimed that the HD dealer salesman who sold him his bike gave him an elbow-to-the-ribs-type aside and said ‘chicks love ABS security’.

Brake caliper with ABS
As a matter of fact ABS is offered as an option on Road Glides as a part of the ‘Security Package’ including H-D® Smart Security System. Attorneys representing Harley-Davidson explained that the manufacturer puts this icon on all his models where ABS is optional to be certain that bikes that do have anti-lock brakes system will definitely have the accompanying light. They argued that there is nothing odd or unique about a non-ABS bike having an ABS icon. “If the icon doesn’t light up when starting the bike, anybody should know you don’t have ABS.” They also stated to the jury that it’s common practice for manufacturers to include the ABS icon for all of its bikes even if they don’t have the system because it is more costly and complicated to use different parts when they make the different bikes. After a full last weekend deliberation the jurors decided that the Road Glide tachometer doesn’t bear a design defect in the form of the ‘ABS’ icon and exonerated Harley-Davidson of any responsibility for the crash.

Front Brake with ABS on Dyna model

(Bron Huze)

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