Why Was Suzuki Sued for $12.5 Million?

Superbike on the racetrack

On August 12, 2013, a man riding a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000 suddenly hit the pavement as he was taking a corner. When police arrived, he told officers that he thought he hit a patch of gravel, but a different cause may have been lurking in the shadows. Worse yet, Suzuki may have known about this problem, but did nothing about it until the end of the riding season. Now, the motorcycle manufacturer must defend itself in court.

Suzuki Sued for Defective Brakes

In October of 2013, Suzuki recalled over 210,000 motorcycles from the 2004 through 2013 model years. These models included their famous GSX-R600, GSX-R750 and the GSX-R1000 superbike. The issue was front brakes that wouldn’t always function properly. At the time, Suzuki claimed that no one had suffered injuries due to the issue, but that claim may have been premature.

The rider mentioned above suffered a shattered spine due to his crash back in August. This injury kept him from returning to his career with the post office and forced him to endure a long road to recovery. At first, he thought a patch of gravel was to blame, but soon he learned of this potential defect in his bike’s braking system. After investigating, it became clear to him that his crash might have been prevented if Suzuki had issued a recall for braking failures earlier in that year, so the man sued Suzuki for $14 million.

The company responded to the case by claiming that the rider was in fact riding recklessly. It called an expert to point out irregularities in the scene, and to try to convince the jury that the plaintiff’s brakes were not malfunctioning. However, the rider defended his claim using the testimony of several other Suzuki riders who had experienced the same braking failure he had. Their stories were very similar to the plaintiff’s. In addition to that, post-crash tests were performed on the motorcycle, and it was shown that the front brake system was not working.

After less than five hours of deliberations, the jury sided with the plaintiff. The testimony of his fellow riders and the post-crash testing outweighed the claims of Suzuki’s expert witness. The jury awarded the rider $12.5 million—2 million of which went to the rider’s wife for her suffering.

Suzuki’s claim that its 2013 recall wasn’t responsible for any injuries may not have taken this man’s case into account, which is why it is so important to contact experienced help when dealing with your crash. Manufacturers would like the public to think that product defects like this don’t hurt anyone, but these mistakes do affect people’s lives. Making sure that your crash is properly investigated could be the only way to ensure that you don’t become the victim of this type of negligence.

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