Sacramento jury mulling ABS illumination suit against Harley-Davidson, local dealer

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A Sacramento Superior Court jury is attempting to decide who’s responsible for a motorcycle accident that left a passenger with brain injuries: Harley-Davidson and one of its dealers, or the driver who crashed the bike.

The plaintiffs are Jack and Judy Wilson. Their attorney says the OEM and the dealership, Harley-Davidson of Sacramento, are at fault for misleading them, because the 2008 Road Glide they were riding had a small ABS icon on the tachometer, even though the vehicle was not equipped with ABS.

Attorneys for Harley-Davidson say the Wilsons are making a shameless grab for a million-dollar payout.

If the motorcycle had been equipped with ABS, the little icon would have illuminated. H-D attorney Gary A. Wolensky says Jack Wilson, as an experienced rider, should have known that if the icon never lit up, the bike was not equipped with antilock brakes.

Judge Alan G. Perkins sent the jury into deliberations after acrimonious closing arguments, and it's now the panel's job to determine whether the dealership was negligent in selling the Wilsons the bike and whether the OEM's product bore a design defect in the form of the "ABS" icon, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The since-estranged Wilsons bought the motorcycle in January 2008 and crashed it April 11, 2009, while heading north on Highway 99. Jack Wilson said he hit the brakes when traffic backed up while he was going 65 mph, locking up the rear wheel and catapulting his wife 35 feet forward into the pavement.

In the crash she suffered skull, facial, rib and scapular fractures. She now has a prosthetic skull and permanent brain softening. Pain and assorted disorders will render her unemployable forever, her lawyer says. They are seeking $2.6 million in lifetime economic damages.

Posted by Holly Wagner

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