Texas court finds for Harley dealer in test ride case

Publish Date: 
Dec 26, 2012

VICTORIA, Texas - Justices with the 13th Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 20 that Euton Harley-Davidson Inc. was not negligent when an employee crashed while doing a diagnostic test ride on one of its motorcycles.

Robert Zissa Jr. filed the appeal in April 2011. Zissa reportedly ran a stop sign July 5, 2006, while test driving a motorcycle for the dealership. He collided with a 2002 GMC Yukon, lost part of his right leg and incurred $600,000 in medical costs, according to court documents cited in the Victoria Advocate.

Zissa accused the dealership of failing to instruct its employees on how to properly operate motorcycles and to provide a safe place to test drive motorcycles. The dealership’s attorney argued that he chose not to take one of two safe routes the dealership recommended to him for test rides. Zissa’s attorney argued it would have been impossible to diagnose a problem with the motorcycle and be aware of the hazards on the road at the same time; he said the dealership should have a test track.

The justices said Zissa's 16-year motorcycle riding career proved he was neither inexperienced nor ignorant about the dangers that come with his line of work.

"By Zissa's own admission, he test-drove motorcycles seven to 10 times a week for three years without incident. Therefore, we conclude that (the dealership's) duty to instruct did not apply to Zissa, "Justice Gina M. Benavides wrote in the opinion.

Zissa has until Dec. 28 to file a motion for rehearing.

Posted by Holly Wagner