In ABS Light Case, Woman Sues And Loses Her Case Against Harley-Davidson

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.

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’.


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.

48 Responses to “In ABS Light Case, Woman Sues And Loses Her Case Against Harley-Davidson”

  1. 1 Greg Dec 20th, 2011 at 10:54 am

    A story of idiot light.

  2. 2 BadMonkeyMW Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:07 am

    It’s unfortunate that these people were injured, but it doesn’t make up for the rider’s lack of skills in handling his own motorcycle.

  3. 3 hk Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:09 am

    just when you think humanity has a chance ,someone like this guy comes along and wrecks it .

  4. 4 Matt Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Over reliance on ABS can be a danger of it’s own. ABS doesn’t mean you get to leave your wits at home.

  5. 5 rebel Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:36 am

    good verdict, people need to know their part in being responsible, wonder if she’s going to sue her ex now.

  6. 6 Marc Frantz Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Matt, you’re right on the money!!

    All the new machines coming out from the various manufacturers are coming equipped with a host of driver aids. From traction control & ABS to electronic suspension adjustment and anti-wheelie control.

    The worry is people are going to get a false sense of security as well as a false sense of ‘ability’, as they push the envelope of their comfort zone and rely on these ‘aids’ to get them out of trouble.

    Nothing will take the place of well honed skill sets when it comes to riding……..period.

    Having driver aids on a bike is like having a shotgun in the house for defense. It’s great to know that you have it, but you wouldn’t want to be in a position to actually use it.

    Good defensive driving & braking skills are the only way to ensure one’s survival amongst the cell phone using cagers that think they’re the only ones using the road.

    On another note, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all the Cyril Huze bloggers, the builders and last but not least, Cyril Huze & family!

    My wish is for a safe and happy holidays for all. I hope we finally turn the corner on the economic trouble we’re experiencing lately, and that 2012 turns out to be a great year for all of us!!

    God Bless America!!

    Kind Regards,


  7. 7 CafeSportyTC Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I agree with Matt, Even if the bike was equipt with abs shouldnt the rider be trained to handle the bike as if without abs? Over reliance on technology is a bane to our society and leaves too much room for idiocy. becuase people think soomething is capable of handling situations they decide to put all their eggs in one basket…. the only persons fault for this lady’s injuries is her ex husband… sue his ass

  8. 8 Boss Hawg Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Sort of like the Winnebago Autopilot

    “In this case it’s unclear who is the craziest, is it the court or poor Mrs. Merv Grazinski from Oklahoma City. Merv Grazinsky bought a brand new Winnebago (remember, just Winnebago, not a space shuttle) and was eager to try it on the freeway. She visited a football game at Oklahoma University and while she was driving back home she got hungry, set the speed at constant 70mph, left the driver’s seat and went back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Of course, after few second the vehicle crashed and overturned. Merv Grazinsky was angry to Winnebago because the manufacturer missed to put in the driver’s manual that the driver’s seat should never be left. Unbelievably, the jury had the same opinion with her and ordered Winnebago to pay her $1,750,000 and another brand new motor home.”

    Boss Hawg

  9. 9 Gary Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Boss –

    Need to check the story before responding. No Mfg paid for a runaway winnebago:

  10. 10 BobS Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Sure, manufacturers didn’t cause this wreck, riders and drivers did. But I would be mad as hell if I found out the bike I bought did not have the equipment on it that it was advertised to have. I’d be even madder than that to find out a wreck that left my wife with a serious injury could have been avoided by a bike equipped with the better brakes, like my bike was advertised to have. Harley didn’t cause the wreck but selling bikes as abs equipped when they’re not is really pretty low. Like say that Screaming Eagle 103 air cleaner cover…yeah that’s just there in case Harley wants to sell a bike with a 103 to someone else. Yours is just a standard 96 with an SE cover on it.

  11. 11 ImagineThat Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I’m sorry this just sounds like people not willing to take responsibility for there own actions, in this case bad motorcycle riding. It is a trend that I wish would go away, it is always some one else s fault at everything. That and unscrupulous ambulance chasing lawyers that are only interested in suing everyone. Wake up America this ruling was correct ABS won’t fix bad habits and horrible riders.

  12. 12 roscoe Dec 20th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    What really happened—
    He panicked and locked up the rear brake because he doesn’t know how to ride, but he wanted to save face down at the local watering hole and made up a stupid excuse which makes him look even worse!
    I hope he didn’t scuff his mandatory chaps and flamed do-rag.

    Sorry to hear about his ex-wife, I better not ask the about helmets they were or were not wearing?

  13. 13 #Laughable Dec 20th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Once again Boss Hawg makes me laugh. I guess anyone can start up a blog and call themselves an authority on the topic. Boss Hawg, I laugh nearly every time you write something. Your over ambition on this site only leads me to believe you are trying hard to advertise your site. (It’s not working.) Just call Cyril and place a banner ad. It would be more effective.

  14. 14 Jeff Nicklus Dec 20th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    This reminds me of the woman who ordered the HOT Coffee from McDonalds Drive Thru, placed the cup between her legs and proceeded to spill the coffee and burnt her Pee-Pee ….. sued McDonalds and was awarded big bucks in damages. Sometimes I believe this country has gone crazy!

    Over & Out,


  15. 15 Toby Dec 20th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I think many of the commentators here misunderstand the claim. The bike NEVER had ABS. It does have an unlit ABS icon though. The trial attorney was trying to convince a jury that since the tach had the ABS icon (never lit up) that it was reasonable to assume it had ABS which would have prevented the skid (probably a high side flip).

    Extra icons are common, especially in cars. Ever notice when the sunlight hits the instrument cluster just right that you can see a bunch of unused icons.

    A fact not mentioned above: The plaintiff turned down a settlement offer of $900,000!

  16. 16 Boss Hawg Dec 20th, 2011 at 6:53 pm


    That’s the point….
    No one is going to pay for an ABS light without the ABS braking system either.

    Peace Brother,
    Boss Hawg

  17. 17 Boss Hawg Dec 20th, 2011 at 6:56 pm


    Quite contrary. If I was advertising a site, it would laden with articles, adverts etc… It is something I do when I want to do it.

    Those select few here that know me, know me….those that don’t like you are simply…Laughable.

    Merely passing time.

    Boss Hawg

  18. 18 Fausto Dec 20th, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I heard she was able to shed 30 lbs of ugly fat in 0.12 secs!

    By the way buddy, that lever on the right side of the handlebar does more than open beer bottles!

    It`s the bike`s fault I crashed-what a f`n ding-dong.

  19. 19 David Dec 20th, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Jeff Nicklus…..I cant believe that you think this country has gone crazy, They elected the current president didn’t they and they keep paying lawyers more and more money so they can try and get something or somebody to pay for their mistakes. On top of that they all think its someone else’s fault because they were born stupid and lazy.

    SSDD; David

  20. 20 Cowboy Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    How about the fact that Mr. Wilson appears to never have read the Owner’s Manual which clearly states how the ABS indicator light works. If he really thought he had ABS and read the manual, he would have learned that an ABS equipped bike would have had the tach light flashing at idle. No flash, no ABS-or a problem with an ABS equipped bike. Simple when you think about it. RTFM!!

  21. 21 J Wells Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Read the manual.
    They put the front brake on there for a reason.

    My pan must have anti lock brakes, I apply front and rear brakes all the time and have never locked em up.

  22. 22 nicker Dec 20th, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    “… read the Owner’s Manual…”

    Spot on….!!!
    (and if ya don’t know how to read, learn)

    Then learn how to ride.
    Anyone who really think ABS is going to save their sorry ass has a rude awakening in store.

    Rear breaks help settle down the suspension before applying the front break.
    Those who rely-on-em to stop their scooter should switch to Golf, it’s safer.


  23. 23 jony5 Dec 21st, 2011 at 12:46 am

    ABS is an abbreviation for Anti-lock Braking System. What it got to do with the Front Brake or lack thereof? PUT THE FRONT BRAKE ON BROS! It got mo power! Duhhh! Physics, or somethin, yeah.
    Gee, you got money, but you got to have a brain to survive in this go world, just saying, put the front brake on when the weight transfers forward, just a biking fact. Merry Christmas all!

  24. 24 jony5 Dec 21st, 2011 at 1:00 am

    @ Toby
    A fact not mentioned above: The plaintiff turned down a settlement offer of $900,000!

    WOW! your kidding, no? Put the front brakes on most any time you ride, learn about this important device in braking technology, for your own and other people’s safety.

  25. 25 Nobody Dec 21st, 2011 at 2:10 am
  26. 26 Ben Dec 21st, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Always hate to hear of motorcycle crash related injuries, but in this case it sounds like a bit of Darwin in action. Many first timers have no fear of their bike or riding on public streets because they are not smart enough to know how quick it can all go terribly wrong. Education is the answer every time.

  27. 27 Cybersurfingalien Dec 21st, 2011 at 9:24 am

    @ BobS- Blame the sales person for telling you it had ABS, not the manufacture. Would it be Ford’s fault if you bought a car with no AC package if the sales person said it had AC?

  28. 28 Dave Dec 21st, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I’m not sure who has less common sense, the rider or some of the people commenting here.

  29. 29 Kroeter Dec 21st, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I’m with Jeff Nicklus. Much time and money spent to determine the plaintiffs are idiots. But our litigation-happy society is always looking to make a buck. It’s the American way!

  30. 30 Betty Dec 21st, 2011 at 10:56 am

    So, aside from this guys lack of skill .. Did the salesperson falsely represent that the bike had ABS brakes? Or is this guy just dumb enough to spend that amount of money on something without knowing what he was getting? Don’t you think that when they sat down to do the paperwork, the salesman says to him, “do you want to pay extra for the ABS option?” At some point they HAD to have this discussion, no? I would think the only way his case stood a chance is if he said, “Please sell me a bike with ABS” and the salesman says he does and then purposely gives him a bike without it. I just don’t know understand… oh, the stupid … making my head hurt….

  31. 31 Rob Dec 21st, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Motorsickles are dang-erous.
    Some times those that gets hurts is us.
    Just ‘cuz you crash, don’t act like a wuss.
    Maybe next time, you should take the bus.

    I had no idea I had a poem in me today. Sure, calling that poetry is a bit of a stretch. But thanks anyway for the inspiration.

  32. 32 Jim C Dec 21st, 2011 at 11:25 am


    I have a boring Ford Escape – I have a not-so-boring Buell Cyclone – I WANT a not-boring-at-all civilian aircraft. The Buell is my compromise (to satisfy my need for ‘flying’), but when I go for a ride, I am still the pilot-in-command. I have to know about the tires, brakes, belt, fuel, oil, and every piece of equipment included. Sorry either of these folks got hurt, but glad the court system was on the ball when they weren’t

    And for you Rob, this is my motorcycle poem:

    Dress for the beach
    ride on the street
    fall down and look like
    hamburger meat

    Merry Christmas to all of you!

  33. 33 cwglide Dec 21st, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Just another fool shifting the blame instead of taking responsibility.

  34. 34 Andy Lund Dec 21st, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Common sense isn’t so common in this world, as you can see in this case. I am glad they got a dozen in a jury box with some.

  35. 35 BigWave916 Dec 21st, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    “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’.”

    Yeah right, and if that really happened, which I doubt seriously, the guy is a complete knob for claiming that comment influenced his decision to buy the bike.

  36. 36 Smittydog Dec 21st, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    All i can say is the guy should have never bought a motorcycle.

  37. 37 AC Dec 22nd, 2011 at 2:40 am

    I’ll bet she wasn’t wearing a decent helmet and if so, that’s the real stupidity here.

  38. 38 BobS Dec 22nd, 2011 at 8:32 am

    @Cybersurfingalien, sure you can blame the sales person if you want. I was specifically speaking to facts of the case, not conjecture like most everybody else is here. The HD attorneys argued it’s ok to put parts on a bike bearing the symbol, even if the bike isn’t actually equipped with the parts. That’s just like buying a new bike off the showroom floor with a SE103 air cleaner cover, and then finding out it’s just a stock 96 underneath. That would piss me off.

  39. 39 Rob Dec 22nd, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Nice work JimC! I may have to immortalize it in comics. Will contact you for permission.


  40. 40 Jeff Dec 23rd, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Aside from not knowing how to stop a bike, they expect us to believe that when he negotiated for the bike he opted NOT to buy ABS, and then thought he just got lucky when they included it by accident?

    Nice try.

  41. 41 Tickle Dec 24th, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Bikes is dangerous, if ya don’t know what y’all doing. You gonna get hurt. I still wipe out once a week.

  42. 42 Matt Dec 24th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Rob, you must return to your nerd blogs. Oh yeah! You can no longer ride a motorcycle of any sorts. YOU’RE OUT!… I hate how every nerd and his mom, now ride. You’re making us “low lifes” look bad. This use to be an exclusive club that people frowned upon.

  43. 43 Matt Dec 24th, 2011 at 9:02 am

    And Jim C, and Bob. And if you are wondering if im talking about you. Then you got to go too…
    That lady would be fine today, if her husband would’ve stuck to his nerd ways.

    Here’s a poem;,
    go f yourself nerds!

  44. 44 Matt Dec 24th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    And Merry Christmas…

  45. 45 nicker Dec 25th, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Couldn’t-a said it better so ill share the quote:

    “…If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the word ‘safety’. … We live in a civilization of safety, in which we are eventually cocooned from all danger, that is to say, from all experience. What we are left with is a vegetable plugged into a computer, who never leaves the room, like a hideous vision of a William Gibson novel. We would be well advised to rediscover risk…” –Hakim Bey —

    Bottom line… A man has to know his limitations (the stupid don’t).


  46. 46 Pam and Wayne Dec 27th, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Yep that right hand lever is a life saver,it ain’t just there to match the other side,great common sense ruling.

  47. 47 NYBiker Dec 28th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    No instruction book included with the bike ? It could have answered any questions.

  48. 48 dougie Feb 4th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    riders with bikes equipped with abs which i am one,should still ride the bike like it has no abs. harleys with abs in Australia come with a cd explaining how abs works,know your bike before ya ride for your safety and everyone elses. sorry to here bout your missus mate.

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