Harley Crash Lawsuit

December 20, 2011

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A jury yesterday decided that neither Harley-Davidson nor Harley-Davidson of Sacramento was responsible for a crash in April 2009 that left a woman permanently disabled.

Judy Wilson, of Lincoln, California and her estranged husband jack Wilson sued the dealership for an indeterminate sum. Her attorney, Bill Veen, told the jury that the injury had cost his clients about $2.6 million so far and that the total cost of the accident would be about ten times that amount.

The Wilsons had turned down a $900,000 settlement offer before the trial began. Their lawyer explained that settlement would not have been sufficient to pay Judy Wilson’s outstanding medical bills and his fee.

The Crash

The couple was riding Jack Wilson’s 2008 Road Glide on California State Route 99 when the husband locked up his rear brakes at approximately 65 mph. The bike went sideways and Judy Wilson was thrown about 35 feet. She suffered a serious brain injury and multiple fractures to her skull, face and torso. Jack Wilson told cops that he had braked as traffic slowed and that his Antilock Brake System (ABS) had failed. He later learned that his motorcycle was not equipped with an Antilock Brake System.

Wilson’s motorcycle did have an ABS icon of the tachometer. Both Wilsons testified that a salesman at the dealership had told him the motorcycle was equipped with antilock brakes. The Wilson’s attorney argued that the ABS icon was misleading and was a product defect that had caused the crash.

James William Rushford, the lawyer for the dealership, denied that anybody had ever told either Wilson that the Road Glide had ABS. Gary Wolensky, who represented Harley-Davidson in the case, said that Harley puts the ABS icon on all of its tachometers whether they have antilock brakes or not. “There is nothing odd or unique about having an ABS icon on a non-ABS bike,” Wolensky said. “Adding a separate tachometer for the two types of bikes would bring the assembly line to a halt.”

Harley Blameless

Both defense lawyers blamed Jack Wilson for causing the crash by locking his rear brake. Both defense lawyers argued that Wilson should have been a better motorcycle rider after owning the bike for 15 months and that he should have noticed that his ABS icon never lit up and inferred from that that his motorcycle did not have ABS.

The trial began in November. Jurors deliberated less than a day. If Harley had lost the case the motor company would have been forced to recall all its motorcycles that feature the ABS icon but do not have antilock brakes.

Judy Wilson will now apply for and try to survive on Social Security.



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8 Responses to “Harley Crash Lawsuit”

  1. Rashomon Says:

    Must be time for the Darwin Awards again. I hate to see anybody get hurt in an accident but relying on electronics ain’t very smart in my opinion. I wonder if they were estranged before or after the crash?

  2. DocB Says:

    PROSPECT !!!
    stomp on the back brake and hold it !!!

    Ok prospect get yer ass up and pick up yer bike ………. lesson well learned.


  3. Phuquehed Says:

    Glad they lost. Too many idiots wanting that free money for being…well…idiots.

    As for her getting disability, I at least hope she worked a few years to have put *some* money into it. I worked 20 years before I got injured on the job and now live on disability (welllll…like Rebel said…I actually just barely survive on it. It’ll get better though once the bike’s paid off) but I always feel guilty even though I worked for it and deserve it. It’s a shame she won’t be in the kind of pain I’ll be in for the rest of my days and the past 12 years…those asshats deserve it. Stupid should hurt.

  4. RVN69 Says:


    I know you don’t need my approval, but you ain’t got nothing to feel guilty about. There are drug addicts and illegals who never worked here a day in their lives getting SSDI. Every welfare mom in my old hometown got it for their kids, who all get diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or some other such bullshit. I got it as being unemployable due to 100% disability for PTSD. I take it not because I need it, but because if they don’t give it to me they will give it to someone else.

    Potius Mors Quam Foedare

  5. Nihilist Says:

    This guy actually presented his case that his mastery and understanding of his machine was based on a tach icon & what a salesman told him (because a Harley salesman certainly wouldn’t have any other interests than the customer’s)? I’m guessing he probably didn’t even own a service manual and had never performed any routine maintenance. Call me old-fashioned, but I think you should know your bike from front to rear and top to bottom, whether it’s mechanical know-how, electrical testing, or computer-based diagnostics. Close-up & personal interactions with his brakes would have revealed the truth. All in all, a pretty lame argument to say that your ABS didn’t prevent you from nearly taking out you and your wife. ‘Cause the accident certainly wasn’t due to being a shitty rider…

  6. Junior Says:

    First they stomped on the back brake and locked it up, then they refused the 900k. I bet they are wishing they had that 900k about now. But hey, don’t be so hard on the Wilson’s, ya know, some people learn slower than others.


  7. RevMatt Says:

    There is a reason why I change the pads on the front brake two to three times more often than the pads on the rear brake. ABS brakes? I’d never want them on a bike I own.

    He stomped on the rear brake and his wife was thrown 35 feet? Doesn’t sound like a low side dump to me. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out what the guy did with his right foot after the bike started to skid.


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