A press conference was held on May 3rd to announce litigation and the filing of a citation and complaint against Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Stan’s Harley-Davidson and Robert Bosch alleging a defect in the design, maintenance and repair of a Trike motorcycle.
On June 6, 2020, Harold Morris and his longtime companion Pamela M. SinClair, of Batavia and Caledonia, New York, were involved in an accident while riding a 2019 Harley-Davidson Trike motorcycle. was produced on State Route 219 in Hamlin Township, McKean County, Pa., as the couple took a group tour with friends and members of the local Harley-Davidson Owners Group (HOG) . Mr. Morris (75), a retired Eastman Kodak aerospace engineer and longtime avid rider, was riding the motorcycle when it malfunctioned, rolled off the pavement, hit an embankment and overturned, killing Mrs. SinClair (63 years old) and causing serious injury to Mr. Morris.
The Trike was purchased new from Stan’s Harley-Davidson in December 2018, where Mr. Morris had been a frequent customer over the years. Two months later, in February 2019, Mr. Morris was driving the vehicle in Florida with Ms. Sinclair as a passenger, when the vehicle malfunctioned, causing him to swerve in the opposite lane, turn around and exit the pavement.
Both Mr. Morris and Ms. Sinclair were thrown from the vehicle and were hospitalized but not seriously injured. The Trike suffered extensive damage and was repaired and maintained by Stan’s in April / May 2019.
In early December 2019, Mr. Morris received a safety recall notice from Harley-Davidson regarding the Trike’s traction control software system, which was manufactured by Robert Bosch, LLC. It has been reported that an issue in the software on the affected motorcycles could cause the rear brake to be unintentionally activated, resulting in an unexpected change of direction and a risk of a collision. The recall was self-generated by Harley-Davidson after a series of customer complaints and incidents dating back to October 2018. Owners were instructed to take their vehicles to a dealership to fix the software issue.
Mr. Morris took the vehicle to Stan’s house. At that time, the recall was allegedly processed, but for unknown reasons the vehicle was not tested.
Mr Morris filed a claim with Harley-Davidson seeking to recover medical costs for himself and Ms Sinclair in connection with the February 2019 accident because he believed the accident resulted from the failure to recall.
Harley-Davidson, through its attorneys, formally dismissed the claim in late January 2020, alleging that there was no evidence the vehicle suffered the recall condition. The fatal accident occurred a few months later.
Despite being informed of the problems with the Trike and after having made a preliminary inspection of the vehicle, Harley-Davidson, Stan’s Harley-Davidson or Robert Bosch was not informed of the cause of the accidents. A complaint has been filed with the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is investigating vehicle faults. No word has been received on what, if any action was taken.
Mr. Morris first met Ms. SinClair in 1976 while the two were working at Eastman Kodak. They were active members of the local Genessee County Harley-Davidson Owners Group.
Ms. SinClair had recently retired from Eastman Kodak in 2019 after forty years of service. The couple had reached the point in their lives where they could begin to enjoy their “golden years” together.