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Steven, in line with your exchange with AIM, I thought you would like to
see the following e-mail I received this morning . . . I think that to
"prove scientifically" that motorcycles are a safety hazard will be made
much easier when they have such phrases as "hostile leg environment"
incorporated into lawsuits filed by *insiders* in the biker community.
BTW: the Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists is another Lester-formed group
of bikers who are doing their best to keep the cases coming to Lester.
the fight goes on,
> The Commonwealth of Virginia is attempting to declare motorcycles a safety
>hazard! The transportation board of VA is currently considering banning
>motorcycles from HOV lanes because they create a safety hazard. In order to
>kick us off the HOV lanes they have to do this. You might have thought that
>we won this battle 2 years ago. Actually, all we won was a two year study.
> Now they are going to claim that they can "prove scientifically" that
>motorcycles are a safety hazard.
> If this happens, Virginia will have officially declared that riding a
>motorcycle is a safety hazard. Just imagine what the insurance industry will
>do to us based on this official declaration. We cannot let the commonwealth
>do this to us!
> Stop this now! Write and/or call your state senator and delegate TODAY.
> Write and/or call Governor Allen. He appointed the Transportation Board.
> It was the Virginia Department of Transportation's former commissioner who
>started this ban movement. You all need to write and/or call the V.D.O.T.
>Commissioner. Tell them not to do this. For your information:
Governor George Allen
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Wed, 09 Jul 1997
Thank you for all the E-mail you send. I pass on as much as I can to
those who need to know. I think you have the best ABATE site on the net.
I was formerly on the NY State ABATE board as Assistant Safety
Coordinator and had a active local chapter on Long Island. Now I live in
PA and remain active though unaffiliated. I am also writing for Thunder
Press on a monthly basis.
I have been in touch with Bill Bish in the past regarding the
"product liability controversy". Lester's offices did state that they
would no longer initiate product liability lawsuits. It seems as though
they have however. I do agree that Harley has been manufacturing
inferior parts and can see some validity to the lawsuit claims. If we
can have the manufacturer improve design and maintain prior quality
standards then isn't that good overall for motorcyclists? I can see how
the insurance companies might use these lawsuits as a precedent setting
device to further anti-motorcycling legislation...but they use
My concern is for the safety of the biker. Harley has exercised some
very questionable manufacturing and marketing habits. As consumers what
other recourse do we have? Until, or unless, Harley develops a moral
conscience product liability is the only really effective lever. I am
afraid there is no simple black and white answer. The warning label bit
is going too far.It seems to be legal mumbo-jumbo to strengthen the
lawsuits effectiveness. I also do not believe that they are pushing for
leg protectors. They are looking for the derby cover and engine guards
to be designed better with higher quality metals. I do agree that Lester
has some sleazy tactics. I have had an experience or two with his
offices. What I am curious about is this...NCOM ? Do you think that it
is still a valid resource for MRO's and activist's? I have received
quite a bit of assistance from them in the past. Lately, everyone has a
complaint about them. They do have a great data base of information but
many say the price is too high. I have found that Bill has been helpful
and reputable, and never looked for any give back. Interested in your
I wish I never had to read your case in the first place. Regarding
rescinding, I'd love to, but 1st need to understand the nature of the
March '97 filing of what appears to me, to be a "new" claim for an,
albeit, "old" accident. I mean it is... after all, a "new" claim, yes?
As in new day, new dollar, new court, new defendant, etc...
I'm confused, I admit it. How can a new claim be an old claim?
The fact that this new case stems from an old accident seems more
the scenario and somehow qualify for the immunity from logic file.
Look, when you get stopped for a speeding ticket... after signing the
citation, are you allowed to continue along at the same blistering clip
for the duration of that scheduled destination? I mean you're still on
your way to the same place, same vehicle, same itinerary, same trip,
same day, same road.
"Yes your honor, I know the speed limit is 55 miles
per hour, but I wasn't planning on being out that long."
The Salgado case is not a case of wine. It is not getting better
with age, yet AIM is continuing to cash in and every such case against
HD which attempts to obfuscate the rider's responsibility only
serves to undermine our freedom fight.
I don't have a problem with PI cases or PI lawyers and wish you
all well. I do have a problem, however, with such product liability
cases along with all the rest of us who impressed Richard to stop
encouraging or doing them.
If you can explain why it's OK to continue filing claims
in light of the outcry I'll listen. Frankly, I see the McDonald's
coffee suit and these "Leg Off" cases as pure opportunism. We all
know bikes are dangerous and we all know that getting hit from the
side may take our legs off. Come on Sam, it's a known risk.
How can this new Salgado case filed for the first time on 3/25/97
against HD be an old case simultaneously. Come on, man...we know
it can't. Don't you mean, "old accident" or "old client"? I don't
know Sam, I'm holding 17 pages of text. One is a 2 year old letter
and the remaining 16 pages are a brand new claim written and filed
in March of 1997. The fact that you've know Salgado for 2 years
doesn't redefine the present...
This issue has been hashed to death, Steve, and I'm surprised and
dissapointed that you are raising it again. Most of us are past this one, and
have moved on to dealing with bikers rights issues. The lawsuit you are
referring to in your e-mail, according to you, is an old case. It stems from
a 1995 accident, and the AIM attorney, Joe Eggleston, evidently represented
the biker back then. The AIM attorneys have pledged to take on no new cases
against Harley on these types of so-called "leg -off" cases. But we have to
finish out the cases for the clients we already had at the time that pledge
was made. We can't just dump them because some people think that the type of
claim is not politically correct.
Several months ago or more, Richard Lester and the AIM attorneys agreed not
to handle any more of these claims, and to refer new cases to other
attorneys, but to finish out the cases we still had. We have a very high
duty to our EXISTING clients. Any cases which we had at the time that
statement was made should be concluded in accordance with the wishes of the
particular client - the biker who lost his leg, by the way, for whom you
would appear to show little sympathy.
It has now been well over a year since these cases (for amputated legs caused
by a claimed defective engine case design) against Harley have been brought
to light in the biker community, and years earlier still that these cases
have been going on, primarily by non-AIM attorneys. Your beef, as I recall,
was that these claims involved allegations against H-D of improper leg
protection, and a hostile leg environment, and that if there was such an
environment, then the bikes should be outfitted with proper leg protection
(crash bars). Your fear was, in essence, that this might lead to legislation
for mandatory leg protectors (NOT crash bars, but big clunky devices, like in
Europe) on bikes, such as some people have tried (unsuccessfully, I might
add, and opposed by AIM and NCOM) to make mandatory in Europe.
Well guess what: There has NOT been a single peep in ANY legislature in this
country about mandatory leg protectors, and we've had at least two states and
one territory during this period roll back all or part of their helmet laws!
H-D has, in fact, partially corrected the case design problem, much to the
benefit of us and our legs.The only real problem that developed as a result
of these lawsuits is that there has been a hue and cry by a lot of people who
think there is a problem.
No real problem has in fact surfaced, other than one terrible result: the
division among ourselves in the political biker community. That's a real
waste of our energy and resources. I wish you could see that, and stop
putting this kind of negative energy out into the biker world - or at least
ASK someone - like an AIM attorney - like ME - or Richard Lester, FIRST, what
something is about, before you start commenting on it. If you'd have asked
first, you'd have found out this case you're referring to is just an old case
With all due respect for your obvious committment, Steve, I think you should
examine who's side your position effectively favors, in the big picture. It's
not the little guy, or the average biker for that matter, who benefits - Big
Corporate America is who really benefits from your line of thinking. It is
they who are almost always the ones who are sued for unsafe products, and it
is these lawsuits which generally - again in the big picture - which tend to
make companies make safer products for us all. They generally do NOT result
in restrictive legislation. H-D, as I said, has even taken the cue and made
the case design less dangerous. This is wrong?
Product liability claims are not unique to motorcycles nor to AIM attorneys.
If you have a problem with injured people suing for unsafe products, you
should take that up with your legislature. Not with a handful of lawyers who
are dedicated to bikers rights, and who put their time, energy and money into
the bikers rights movement as much as anyone. And by the way, when an AIM
attorney succeeded a few years ago with a four million dollar products
liability claim against a helmet manufacturer, I heard cheers. I didn't hear
July 10, 1997
To All Concerned Motorcyclists;
Well, here we go again...another round of senseless, time consuming and
counterproductive bickering, and all because of the thoughtless,
irresponsible and vicious actions of BOLT in widely distributing a copy of a
leg©off lawsuit against Harley©Davidson, from a case that was signed up by
AIM nearly TWO YEARS AGO! Despite the fact that this case was started long
before the recent flap over product liability lawsuits, this despicable act
by BOLT will surely stir the pot, just when things were simmering down.
First off, if BOLT could read, they would have noticed that the
date on the confidential letter of notification to the insurance carrier for
the underlying claim against the insured driver was November 1, 1995, and
the AIM attorneys agreed that they would no longer accept these cases in
July 1996!! It is no secret that AIM has about a dozen of these cases that
are still at various stages of litigation, and that after these cases are
completed, AIM will take no more, but will refer the product liability
portion to other competent outside attorneys.
In fact, that is exactly what happened with this case. Joe Eggleston is
the AIM attorney for Arizona, and he referred this case to Mitchell Cohen, a
litigator who is not an AIM attorney!
In the Salgado case, which was subbed out from BAM's Arizona
attorney in September 1995 (the client fired BAM and hired AIM, which
explains why Russ Brown has been actively spreading this misinformation),
AIM attorney Joe Eggleston handled the underlying tort claim against the car
driver's insurance company, which had to be settled, treatment completed and
bills paid before the product liability portion could be referred out and a
federal claim filed, and that happened March 25, 1997.
Are we, as a motorcycle community, going to have to rehash this
bitter and divisive issue every time there is a motion, appeal, judgment or,
heaven forbid, a settlement in any of these remaining cases?!? I certainly
hope not, but there are detractors and instigators out there who thrive on
controversy and chaos.
I had hopes that the issue had finally been laid to rest after
nearly two hours of intense discussion at the recent NCOM Convention, when
the topic was addressed during the first seminar of the Convention in order
to clear the air. When all was said and done, the vast majority of those in
attendance were in agreement that we need to move past this divisive issue
and re©focus our energies on more pressing bikers rights issues.
As a result of that seminar, and to put closure to this issue, the
following statement was read by NCOM Chairman of the Board James "Doc"
Reichenbach at the Saturday evening awards banquet; "The issue of product
liability and how lawsuits impact the motorcyclists rights movement was
discussed at length at the 12th Annual NCOM Convention in Richmond,
Virginia, on May 9, 1997, with a panel of Richard M. Lester, founder of AIM
and NCOM; Tom Stickle, product liability attorney/engineer; and Bill Bish,
NCOM Executive Coordinator answering the questions and concerns of over 300
representatives of 33 state MRO's, 2 Canadian Provinces and the United
Kingdom. After exhaustive inquiry, the near unanimous consensus, by show of
hands, was to put this issue behind us for the greater good of bikers
rights, and move forward toward our collective goals of freedom and unity.
In recognizing the clear mandate of the vast majority of NCOM member
organizations in attendance, NCOM and AIM will not produce or distribute any
further unprovoked or unsolicited responses, materials or information on the
subject. We will waste no more precious time and resources on this matter
(or so we'd hoped)." The statement was met by a rousing standing ovation.
As for Steven Shmerler and BOLT, the words "BOLT"and "Intelligence"
should not even be on the same page! ONE CALL to our office could have
cleared this issue up, but NO! They resort to launching a nationwide
assault on our credibility without so much as checking, verifying or even
READING their own drivel.
Yours in Freedom,
RICHARD M. LESTER
Founder, AIM & NCOM
Yeah Richard, its a free world and you are sadly within your rights to bite the hand that feeds you...
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