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Motorcycle had issues after plaintiff made modifications – Defense Verdict

Plaintiff purchased a new Ducati 1200 ST Multistrada motorcycle from Redline Performance Motorsports in York in February 2011. Plaintiff was a disabled Vietnam veteran who worked as a motorcycle mechanic and owner of an independent garage in the 1970s. Since that time, he has continued to work on his own vehicles and has amassed a fleet consisting of seven different cars and motorcycles.

Soon after acquiring his motorcycle, plaintiff took an extended trip to Florida. He put over 1,200 miles on the bike in a month’s time, and brought it back to the dealership in March 2011 for his 600-mile service. He had no complaints about the performance of the bike at that time.

Thereafter, plaintiff began installing numerous aftermarket accessories on the bike, including new grips, electronics, rim stripes, fog lights and tires. In addition, he performed his own bodywork on the bike, modifying the fenders to fit the new electronics near the front wheel. When installing the new tires, plaintiff removed the front wheel, including the brake pads and calipers, and reinstalled them before a trip to Colorado in the summer of 2011.

Plaintiff next presented to a dealership in Colorado in June 2011. He complained of issues with the front brake and the rear brake. The rear brake was fixed, but he did not want to wait for repairs to the front brake and returned to Redline in Virginia. Plaintiff brought his motorcycle to Redline on June 21, 2011. He again complained of issues with the front brake and an issue with the rev limiter. The dealership called him twice the next day and left messages regarding an estimate for the repairs to the front brake, which were not covered under warranty because the problems had been caused by the plaintiff’s work on the bike after his service visit in March. The dealership called and left messages two more times, with no response. A month later, plaintiff called Ducati North America and threated to file a suit under the Lemon Law. The next day, he called the dealership, which opted to prepare the bike under warranty as a goodwill gesture to the plaintiff. He picked up the bike on July 30, 2011.

Plaintiff rode the bike again, and claimed that he was continuing to have problems with the rev limiter, and brought the bike back to Redline on Aug. 2, 2011. The dealership determined that the aftermarket accessories installed on the bike were starving the engine of air, and repaired the bike, but insisted that these repairs be paid by the plaintiff. He paid for the repairs, but insisted that the repair order reflect that he did not agree with their assessment that the problems were caused by his work on the motorcycle.

Plaintiff continued to ride his motorcycle for the next several months, without problems. He next brought it into a dealership on Dec. 6, 2011. On this occasion, he was complaining about issues with the rear brake, which was repaired. Again, the dealership had problems communicating with the plaintiff. He brought it back again in February 2012. This time, he complained of problems with the rear brake and battery. The brake was tested and found to be functioning normally. The battery was operating within factory specifications; further testing was not done due to the numerous modifications. Although he claimed that the motorcycle would not start, plaintiff had put another thousand miles on the motorcycle since 2012.

Plaintiff originally filed suit against Ducati alleging claims under the Virginia Lemon Law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. He claimed that the motorcycle had been out of service for more than 70 days, thus meeting the presumption under the Lemon Law. He nonsuited his Magnuson-Moss Claim on the morning of trial, and proceeded under the Lemon Law. Plaintiff called two experts to trial, one valuation expert and one mechanical expert, who was a friend of the plaintiff’s. Ducati argued that many of the repairs were precipitated by the plaintiff’s improper modifications and maintenance on the motorcycle, including a lengthy visit to the dealership in June 2011. The defense called just one expert, an in-house service business manager with Ducati.
The jury heard testimony over the majority of two days, and deliberated approximately an hour before returning a verdict for Ducati.


Type of action: Lemon Law
Name of case: Coxe v. Ducati North America, Inc.
Court: York County-Poquoson Circuit Court
Case no.: CL12-4866
Tried before: Jury
Judge: Marc Jacobson
Date resolved: April 30, 2014
Special damages: Plaintiff sought all damages recoverable under the Lemon Law
Verdict or settlement: Defense verdict
Attorneys for defendant: Robert M. Zimmerman, Cincinnati; Tracy Taylor Hague, Richmond
Attorney for plaintiff: John Cole Gayle Jr., Richmond

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