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 Negligence and stupidity - the same thing?
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  11:26 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend                        Like
It seems that we need a little controversy here to liven the forum up a bit. So I'll play the bad guy now and churn the waters with some opinions that should get under some of your skins. All for a good purpose, of course.

A case I've been working on over the last year or so just settled. That's probably a good thing, right? I mean who wants a court battle to go on for months and months when 'fairness' and 'justice' is so easily found to even casual observers?

Me, that's who. [That's SARCASTIC, I hope you understand.]

In my opinion, there are too many lawyers available who take advantage of their clients for no other reason than for financial reward. In this case, an attorney accepted a case based on 'facts' that make no sense, but even if true, those facts included a confession that the accident was entirely his client's own fault. There was no case! But the attorney took it on and made it one by naming a motorcyclist as the Defendant and claiming that man was negligent in his behaviors and caused an accident which resulted in severe injuries to his client, the Plaintiff.

In short, this is what happened ...

During an afternoon group ride where five Harley-Davidsons were being ridden in staggard formation, the Plaintiff was riding in the second position in the left RIGHT half of the lane and the Defendant was in the lead position in the left half of that lane.

At one point in the ride, the lead biker decided that he was going to make a right turn at an intersection the group was approaching. Then, according to the Plaintiff, the lead bike made an aggressive right turn, cutting so close to the front of his bike, that he (the Plaintiff) had to choose between colliding with the lead bike or 'laying his bike down'. He chose to lay it down and as a result of the crash with the pavement, both he and his passenger sustained severe injuries as well as damaged his motorcycle.

So let's get this straight; the lead biker, who is responsible for choosing the path of travel and speed for the group, decided to do just that. And when that lead bike turned right, it entered the intersection without incident. That is, no squealing tires, no collision, nothing unusual at all. The Plaintiff, who assures that the group was traveling at or below posted speed limits and was maintaining a normal 1-second following distance, was so traumatized by the 'unexpectedly aggressive behavior' of the lead bike, felt he had to drop his motorcycle in order to avoid a crash into the lead bike.

Oh, did I mention that the Plaintiff claimed that there was no arm signal given by the lead biker to indicate a right turn was imminent and that at least two witnesses claimed that the lead bike's right turn lights were blinking?

And did I happen to mention that the Plaintiff admitted that only one month prior to this 'accident' he had dropped his bike (laid it down') in order to avoid yet another collision?

And, oh yeah ... the Plaintiff's motorcycle did NOT collide with the Defendant's motorcycle (nor did anyone else), yet the lead bike was named as the Defendant and responsible for 'the collision'. (The lead biker was an uninvolved rider and his motorcycle was similarly uninvolved.)

The claim of 'negligence' was a huge stretch. A person is negligent if he fails to use 'proper care' and invariably relies on there being a 'duty' of some kind to perform with that care.

Does anybody here believe that the lead biker has a duty beyond selecting a path of travel and speed? Does anybody here fail to understand that bikers in a group are there by choice and are always free to leave, to follow 'the rules' or not, and to be responsible for their own rides?

Well, you get the idea.

Do you need more information to decide if the attorney was an imbecile or not, or maybe if his client was?

Alan_Hepburn
Male Standard Member
191 Posts


San Jose, Ca
USA

Honda

1994 GL1500SE

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  3:57 PM
Sounds to me that it's a case of the intersection of a plaintiff who cannot bring himself to accept responsibility for his own actions, and a lawyer who is more than willing to take someone's money regardless of the truth...
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1495 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  4:53 PM
The plaintiff was one second behind the leader in the same half of the lane as the leader. That is not a staggered formation. The plaintiff does not seem to know where to place his bike or how to control it. The gray area for me is in the leader's responsibility in presenting the "group rules" to the other riders and making sure they are being followed.

Was the group expecting hand signals from the leader as to where the group was going to go before electric signals required to follow traffic laws were used?

Should the leader have carefully guided the group to a safe area after seeing his #2 rider was following in the wrong side of the lane and too close for a staggered formation.

How well did the group members know each other?

Were the other members of the group of the same experience and skill level?

Interestingly enough, I can see a well designed, practiced and educated group putting more responsibility on the leader to keep the group safe. A rag tag, spontaneous get together of riders with little training and no group ride rules would be much less safe but I'd hold the leader without responsibility.

As crazy as it might sound, if the group was well organized with a clear group dynamic and the leader allowed such a poor rider to ride second and ride so badly, I would task the leader with a small percentage of responsibility. Of course, most to all of the responsibility goes to the plaintiff whose poor skills and situational awareness resulted in a crash.

It's also one more account of why I would only ride with one other rider who I knew well and had good skills and training.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  5:39 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Thank you. The points you made were all good, but the problem here was that I mistyped a fact in my post. I edited the initial post to correct it (of course the second rider was in the RIGHT half of the lane - or *I* would have made a big deal of his inappropriate position )

The group was very familiar with each other and rode as a group often.

Hand signals were always an optional mode of communications (at least with this group of riders). Each, in fact, expected the use of turn indicator lights, but EACH agreed that they had 'situational awareness' responsibility - which means that they knew that they should be cognizant of changes in bike speeds whether lights reflect brakes or not (for example), and whether a bike in front of them was changing positions in their lane or even going out of their lane.

No other rider in the group found ANYTHING wrong with the behavior of the lead rider and none of them had any difficulty adjusting their speeds in order to avoid hitting the laid down bike (and making the right turn uneventfully).

As to the 1-second following distance... this was an absolute shock to me. Everybody agreed that it was the 'rule' of the group that was a minimum distance stipulation, but ONLY ONE of the riders knew why it existed!!! All but that one rider concocted an explanation for why they had such a rule which went like: "We didn't want to leave so much space between us that cars running in lanes to our side would be encouraged to entering the group." Only a representative of the H-D company who was called as an expert witness about some aspect or other of the case said that the 1-second rule was in place to provide each rider with adequate REACTION time to deal with whatever happened in from of him or her.

That brings up another claim of the Plaintiff - that the 1-second spacing was inadequate from a safety point of view and that the lead biker, who reminded them at the start of their ride that there was such a rule was NEGLIGENT for failing to tell the group that it was inadequate AND DANGEROUS.

Does that not sound like an over-active and poorly informed attorney having COACHED his client about what and how to say it?

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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  6:03 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
You guys got your thinking hats on and able to 'visualize' this next claim?

About 10 minutes before the 'accident', the group made an 'unexpected' U-turn utilizing a median break. They had gotten into a single-file formation to do so. They turned left using that median break. The Plaintiff said that because it was unexpected (not sure how he could make that claim with a straight face after saying they got into single-formation to do it), he almost ran into the SIDE of the lead bike and was, therefore, certain that the lead biker was 'unpredictable' in style.

Anyway, back to the 'accident' ... the claim was made by the Plaintiff that all of a sudden, without warning, he found the Defendant's bike directly in front of him pointing to the right - giving him a 'broadside view'. That 'scared me to death,' said the Plaintiff, "and made me have to choose between T-boning him or laying it down, so I DECIDED TO LAY IT DOWN."

He went on to say that the lead bike made 'an instantaneous' right turn directly in front of me - it was ALL HIS FAULT!

My reaction to reading his deposition testimony was to laugh. I explained that no car, no truck, no motorcycle ever built could make an instantaneous 90 degree turn without ending up on its side or rolling over from centrifugal force. And as they were riding H-D's, where each one had a lean angle capability of no more than about 30 degrees, (or about half a g of lateral force capability before dragging a hard part), virtually ANY automobile could make a faster 90-degree turn than any of the bikes in the group. In other words, the lead bike had to have made a more-or-less GRADUAL turn to the right.

Well, there's more, but you're all getting the picture, right?

Oh, and the Plaintiff wasn't even asked if he thought that the dew-rag he was wearing instead of a helmet might be partly to blame for the extent of his head injuries.
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greywolf
Male Moderator
1495 Posts
[Mentor]


Evanston, IL
USA

Suzuki

DL650AL2

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  6:05 PM
It sounds to me like the attorney did a little reading, not enough for a good understanding, and coached his client in how to respond to fit the situation. I'm not buying into the idea the the only rider who failed to negotiate the turn was also the only one that knew the one second distance, providing two seconds between bikes in the same half of the lane, was about providing a safety margin rather than to keep cars out of the formation. He learned that after the fact from his lawyer.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  6:13 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Again, I must not have been clear in my post.

You can be CERTAIN that the Plaintiff (the 2nd bike rider) had no idea about why the following distance rule existed. The person that did know was not even a rider in the group. (Well, one rider knew it was for HIS safety, not to discourage automobiles from encroaching.) He was an expert witness (who happened to be a H-D employee) and whose deposition testimony was superb, in my opinion.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/10/2017 :  6:26 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
LOL

I just received an e-mail that asked me what the jury decided in this case. Forgive me for posting as though you all understood the civil legal system here in the states.

The case never went to trial. There was, therefore, no jury finding.

In the state where this happened it is required that in a civil dispute (legal case - a suit), after the attorneys for both sides have tried to work out a solution and are unsuccessful before going to trial, those attorneys must submit their cases up for mediation - that is, they need to try to get a mediator (essentially a judge) to help them find a solution that both sides would agree to. The mediator's real role is to poke holes in both cases and try to get the attorneys to accurately assess their chances of persuading a jury. A non-binding effort, by the way.

Anyway, THANKFULLY, both sides agreed to a settlement during mediation, and so no trial occurred.
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Horse
Senior Member
263 Posts


Newbury, Berkshire
United Kingdom

BMW

R850RT

Posted - 02/11/2017 :  2:32 AM
Are you able to give details of the final result - even if only in hypothetical terms?
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/11/2017 :  7:48 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I have no problem describing the outcome as far as I know it. When I ask for permission to take a case public (here), it includes assurances that the details I provide do not include persons, places, or law firms - or settlement details. But broad brush strokes are expected from me.

This was an insignificant case in terms of the dollars involved (nobody died, nobody lost a limb, nobody ended up so damaged that they would have lifelong difficulties or pain). The medical bills were (as always) quite high and a request was made to have them covered fully. The motorcycle was repaired within a week and is back on the road.

So, both sides had 'expenses' (such as expert witness fees), and both sides had egos and 'reputations' they felt were bruised, but there was nothing catastrophic that had to be dealt with.

The settlement involved merely an agreement as to a fixed monetary amount that the Defendant's insurance company would pay. There were no admissions of any kind. There was no confidentiality agreement that had to be agreed to before the case would be settled. (Large motorcycle safety training organizations like to require confidentiality agreements before they settle because they value their reputations and details from the case might adversely affect that reputation.)

The financial settlement is made to the Plaintiff's law firm which, in turn, distributes it to the Plaintiff and hospitals, etc. AND THEMSELVES according to contractual requirements. It is quite possible that the Plaintiff never sees any money from a settlement. I have no idea if he did in this case or not.

My guess is that the Plaintiff's law firm MIGHT have received enough to cover its expenses, no more.

The settlement closes the case (ends it) for all involved and it cannot be reopened.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 02/11/2017 :  3:19 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
This is why, I would not lead or organize a group ride. I've ridden with groups a few times, quite happy at the rear. I've ridden more with my older brother and his friend, but even then, mostly at the rear.

I suspect a jury might consider a leader, or organizer has some responsibility. To me, it's not worth the risk.

Even in this case, with no case, the poor guy has to go through a lot being sued by a guy that seems to not been paying attention.

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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/11/2017 :  3:57 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I suspect others think like you do about 'leading' anything.

However, I have a different take altogether. It's just my point of view, of course, but I think that without leaders, damn few things happen - good things as well as bad.

What this thread should be telling you is that no matter how good you are or how skillful, s**t happens. And that's why you ALWAYS, ALWAYS have valid insurance coverage. ALWAYS.

The Defendant was inconvenienced and may have been out a modest amount of money (if nothing else, there are costs associated with traveling to meet with attorneys and possibly missed work days, etc.), but it was the Defendant's insurance company that paid the freight here. But that's why they are in business - to transfer economic risks from you to them and to assemble and manage PROFESSIONAL resources to defend THEMSELVES (and you) if necessary.

There is a strange corollary to that position: if you are uninsured you are LESS likely to be sued on trumped up or trivial matters as you are seen as not having 'deep enough pockets' to make winning against you a profitable risk effort to pursue.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1695 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 02/12/2017 :  7:09 AM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I am primarily referring to the aggravation of a suit. Naturally I have insurance, and would likely increase the coverage if I ever decided to become a group leader.

I was sued once in an automobile accident. It was not pleasant. It dragged out from the time of the accident to jury decision for 5 years. It was a rough, stomach churning time for me.

On top of it all, I had a plaintiff exaggerating and faking injury, and an insurance company that purposefully exposed me to monetary risk. At least that latter backfired on them, thank goodness.

This was over 30 years ago, and still lurks in the back of my mind.

As far as leading, group riding, club joining... that's just not me. I'm not a joiner, never have been. But I have enjoyed some rides with brother and friend, and have tailed in those casual gatherings with a friend that leads a Sunday morning ride a few times.

That friend moved South, so that has ended. Probably for the best, as I did not appreciate some of their antics, like blocking intersections (like they might do on a LEO escorted ride).

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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/12/2017 :  7:26 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I agree with you, the aggravation and time to resolve can be enormous.

I've not been involved in a case that lasted five years but two years is not unusual.

As to your last point ... Cash and I would drop out of group rides where anybody in the group behaved in a dangerous manner or with ANGER. Our safety, like yours, depended on taking self-defense initiative like that. Bravo!
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Cash Anthony
Female Administrator
1466 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, Texas
USA

Honda

Magna 750

Posted - 02/13/2017 :  12:14 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Not all states have the same rules regarding mediation, but in most cases now, the parties must try to settle the case before they can take up time in court to try it.

The mediator is not a judge and doesn't do what a judge must do. The mediator conducts a private session but makes no findings of fact or rulings of law. His job is to persuade the parties to expose as much of their case as they are willing to do, so that the opponents are able to see what they are up against. If needed, the mediator can put them in different rooms and shuttle between them with settlement proposals, which are all confidential. A mediator is expected to know the law that governs the case at hand and to know enough about what juries are awarding in cases like that to be able to throw a wet blanket on an individual who comes in with money-signs in his eyes, or to persuade a stingy defendant that he must pay something.

Although mediators generally hold their sessions before trial, it is possible that they may meet afterwards to see if the parties will settle for an amount different from what a judge or jury found has to be paid. This is in an effort to keep from having to prepare an appeal or, sometimes, to avoid putting a company into bankruptcy, where the winning party may get nothing at all.

One of the best things about having a case like this one go to mediation before trial is that the parties can write their own contract, instead of having to take whatever the law provides. So if two companies are on opposite sides in a lawsuit, they might never want to do business together again if they have to live with a judge's order. But if they can settle during mediation, they can write their own contract with just about any terms they can agree upon. This can let two companies resolve their differences and start doing business with each other again. After a trial, it's rare that the parties ever want to see or talk to each other again.

Whether there's any money paid or left for the plaintiff may depend on a lot of things, not just what the attorney wants for taking the case. When the amount of settlement is low, the plaintiff's attorney may decide not to take a fee (yes, this really happens), or to take a smaller percentage. Sometimes this means that the plaintiff's attorney also pays for the expert witnesses without being compensated for it. So it's not always a win for the lawyers to settle; but if there is any money paid, the individual client can come out better than his counsel.

The best thing for the lawyer may be to get rid of the case and the client so that he or she can move on to other cases. A lawyer could also take a case relying on one side of the story but may find out as the case develops that his client was lying or mistaken. A lawyer can "fire" a client, but there are a lot of rules about how to do so; and if the case is already in court, the judge will usually have to give the lawyer permission to be excused from the case. Judges don't want litigants in their courts without attorneys, though sometimes a litigant will insist on representing himself. (This is a terrible idea, even if the litigant is also a lawyer.)

If someone agrees to pay money during mediation but doesn't do so, then the person expecting to be paid can sue on the contract that was drafted to end the mediation. This doesn't revive the original suit; it's a new lawsuit based on what the parties wrote when the mediation ended.

All in all, mediation has been a huge time-saver and money-saver for both courts and clients. Since about 85% of civil cases end up settling, the parties might as well have some say in how it ends. Plus, there's the factor of one person confronting the other, saying what he wants to say and being heard, mainly to get an apology. There are times when this is really all that the plaintiff wanted, and the expectation of money isn't the major issue.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/13/2017 :  6:09 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Cash has explained 'mediation' better than I can. Thanks!

I started this thread with a bit of controversy that sailed over some heads:

I mean who wants a court battle to go on for months and months when 'fairness' and 'justice' is so easily found to even casual observers?

Me, that's who. [That's SARCASTIC, I hope you understand.]


Let me clear that up.

'Fact witnesses' are NOT paid to testify. Expert Witnesses ARE paid to render informed and objective opinions (to educate the jury).

So, if I was in this business for the money, I would prefer all cases to go to trial instead of settling. When my testimony is under oath (memorialized and, thus, capable of being used against me in the future), I'm paid a fee of several thousand dollars. In other words, when I'm deposed and when I testify in a trial.

I'm not in this simply for the money and in a consultant's role (what experts do before they are designated as expert witnesses), I FREQUENTLY advise attorneys to try to settle and why (their case is that weak, in my opinion).

Further, as a matter of course, I write a detailed report that presents the facts in the case, what my opinions are and how I reached those opinions. My reports sometimes reach 20 pages in length. It is distributed to the attorneys on both sides and is made available to the mediator as well. I believe my reports cause more cases to be settled than not as they are very well considered and informative - hard to dispute, in other words. They are, and I intend them to be, efforts to clarify issues to the point that a trial is not necessary if both sides understand them.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/13/2017 :  7:48 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Here is an extract of the report I wrote for this case. A great deal of 'boilerplate' has been removed along with all identifiers.
___

REPORT OF DEFENDANT'S MOTORCYCLE SAFETY AND DYNAMICS EXPERT JAMES R. DAVIS

I. BACKGROUND

I have been retained by the law firm of XXXXXXXXXX, and specifically by attorney XXX XXXXXXX, as an "expert witness" in this civil action in matters relating to motorcycle safety and dynamics and their relevance to this case. I am therefore submitting the following information in support of my application to be designated by the court as an "expert witness" in motorcycle safety and dynamics.

This is my final Findings and Conclusions report pertaining to the above-referenced case. My evaluation is based upon my review of evidence received to date from the defendants and the plaintiff, as well as my review of other information from prior cases that I have analyzed, and my training relating to the various aspects of motorcycle safety and motorcycle dynamics involved in this case.

To date, I have been retained by the defense side in approximately sixty-six percent (66%) of cases in which I have been involved and in thirty-four percent (34%) by the plaintiff side. I have rendered reports and provided both deposition and trial testimony in similar cases. I am an impartial investigator, expert, and fact finder.

II. EDUCATION, TRAINING & SKILL

My qualifications to perform in the capacity of "expert witness" in this case include over 50 years of riding motorcycles, traveling more than 500,000 miles without having been in any accidents and without having received even a single ticket; receiving training and instructor certification from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF); teaching basic motorcycle courses for the MSF; preparing dozens of motorcycle dynamics models that have been peer-reviewed by many senior MSF instructors and academicians; co-authoring and publishing a two-volume reference book on the subjects of motorcycle safety and dynamics (Motorcycle Safety and Dynamics, by James R. Davis and Cash Anthony; ISBN 978-1-257-44016-0 and 978-1-257-96353-9); co-authoring The Essential Guide to Protecting North Carolina Motorcyclists and Their Families, A Consumer's Guide for Buying Motorcycle Insurance and 179 Motorcycle Riding and Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life, by Benjamin T. Cochran and James R. Davis; assisting the motors division (motorcycles) of a police department in the preparation of accident investigation techniques; assisting the MSF in correcting certain of their course curriculum materials; consulting with the U.S. Navy regarding motorcycle safety training and making safety presentation to active-duty Navy personnel; and receiving recognition from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the merits of various articles I've written on motorcycle safety issues.

I have testified as an expert in deposition or at trial in the following cases over the past four years: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

III. STATEMENT OF FEES/CHARGE

My fee schedule for this case is as follows: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

IV. DOCUMENTS REVIEWED FOR THIS ANALYSIS

Commencing xxxxxxxx xx, 2xxx, xxx xxxxxxxx, who is counsel for Defendant xxxx xxxxxx, began presenting me with a compilation of evidentiary documents for my review in preparation for opining on this case. At that same time Defendant's counsel requested that I prepare a concise declaration outlining my basic opinions in this case. Those findings and opinions to date have been incorporated into this document.

I am aware that there may be additional documents or other evidence that might subsequently become available during the discovery process that I might wish to review which may assist me in developing more detailed findings and opinions. Therefore, as is usually my practice in civil litigation cases such as this, I reserve the right to amend my findings and opinions at some later date based upon my ability to review any additional records and/or items of evidence I might subsequently receive.

The documents, evidence and research that I have reviewed to date are listed below:

1. Complaint dated xxxxx xx, 2xxxx
2. Complete Accident Report
3. Deposition of Sherriff xxxxxxxx x xxxxxxx
4. Deposition of xxxxxx xxxxxxx
5. Deposition of xxxxx xxxxx
6. Deposition of xxxxxxxxx xxxxxx
7. Deposition of xxxxxx xxxxxxx
8. Deposition of xxxx xxxxxxxxxxx
9. Deposition of xxxx xxxxxxxxx
10. Deposition of xxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx
11. Deposition of xxxx xxxxxxx
12. Group Riding Guidelines (Attached)

V. SUMMARY OF EVENTS

On Saturday, xxxxxx xx, 2xxxx, at approximately 11:30 a.m., Plaintiff xxxx xxxxxxxxx was riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle along with three other motorcycles all traveling northbound in a staggered group formation, in the town of xxxxxx, county of xxxxxx, xx, on County Highway x. The weather was sunny and clear. As the riders approached County Highway x, the Lead Bike, riding in the left half of the lane, was driven by Defendant xxxx xxxxxxx. Plaintiff xxxxxxxx was in the second position and occupied the right half of the lane at the time. He was carrying a passenger, Ms. xxxxxx xxxxxxx. The roadway was clear of obstacles, and visibility was normal and without obstructions. When the group approached County Road x, Defendant xxxxxxx signaled that he was making a right turn and proceeded to turn right onto County Road x without incident. Plaintiff xxxxxxxxx alleges that Defendant?s motorcycle passed so close in front of him that he had to lock his brakes and lay down his motorcycle in order to avoid a collision with Defendant xxxxxxxx's motorcycle. After locking his brakes, Plaintiff's motorcycle fell to the ground and ejected both the Plaintiff and his passenger, resulting in injuries to both.

Plaintiff's motorcycle did not collide with Defendant's motorcycle.

Plaintiff xxxxxxxx alleges that resulting injuries and damages were caused by Defendant's negligence.

VI. CONSIDERATIONS LEADING TO FINDINGS & CONCLUSIONS

Group Rides
Whenever two or more motorcycles are traveling together, they are taking what is known as a group ride. With the exception of those occasions when they are riding in a parade, motorcycles never travel two abreast for safety reasons. Instead, they travel in a single file or a staggered formation. These are defined as follows:

Single file: a formation in which all the motorcyclists in a group ride in one track of a lane.

Staggered formation: a formation of motorcyclists in a group in which the Lead Bike rides in the left track of a lane, the next bike in the right track (or in the 'slot' position), the next bike in the left track, and so on.

Bikes in a group generally maintain a minimum interval of two seconds travel time between bikes in the same track, and one second travel time between each bike in the group when traveling in a staggered formation. In a staggered formation, a rider still commands and may ride in the entire width of his lane as needed. No bike may pass another bike within the same lane.

All riders in a group are voluntarily there; they are not compelled to be or remain in the group, nor are they compelled to obey following distance guidelines. Each rider is responsible for all aspects of his own ride, including his own safety. This means that no rider, including the Lead Bike, has a duty to ensure the safety of the other riders except by not colliding with them.

Communication between group riders is often accomplished using CB radios. Whether or not CB radios are used, turn signal and brake lights are also used to communicate changes in position, direction, or speed; and sometimes hand signals are used. Hand signals are an optional communication method.

Group riding guidelines are not mandates, but riders who undertake to travel in close formation are expected to be generally familiar with them and to comply with them on a voluntary basis in the interest of safety for all. If a rider (with or without a co-rider) wishes to slow down or stop during the ride, for any reason whatsoever, he or she may drop out of the ride. Similarly, individual riders may choose following distances (generally longer ones) based on their own preferences and abilities, as circumstances suggest.

Following distance guidelines are designed to provide each rider with adequate reaction time to avoid colliding with the bike immediately in front of him, in the same track, by beginning the same behavior (emergency braking, for example) at a point on the roadway sooner than where the front bike began that maneuver. Since it is well documented that it takes on average less than 1.5 seconds for a motorcyclist to perceive and then react to a threat, by following two seconds behind a bike, a rider should be able to begin braking about half a second earlier along the path of travel than did the preceding bike. Assuming roughly the same braking capabilities of both bikes and similar pavement conditions, that means that a rider would never collide with a bike ahead of him under normal circumstances.

Note that a two-second following distance does not assure adequate time to stop a moving motorcycle before colliding with a non-moving threat (such as a deer standing in the roadway or an 18-wheeler crossing the rider's path) if that threat is two seconds ahead when the rider notices it. That following distance also may not discourage other vehicles beside the group from entering it via a lane change.

Motorcycles, like other vehicles, can slow down without causing their brake lights to turn on. Simply rolling off the throttle or downshifting will reduce the speed of travel. In other words, it is absolutely necessary for all riders in a group to be and remain alert as to the behavior and location of other motorcycles in the group, whether clues from signal lights, hand signals, or sounds are available or not. This is often referred to as having situational awareness at all times.

Deceleration Rates
Given that the roadway surface is 'normal' (meaning clean, dry, and level) and that tires are similarly 'normal' (meaning not devoid of tread), aggressively applying the brakes on a vehicle results in a deceleration rate of about 1.0g's. In layman's terms, this means that the vehicle will reduce its speed by about 22 MPH each second it is braking. However, if the vehicle's brakes are locked and its tires are skidding/sliding, it can attain a deceleration rate of typically no more than about 0.85g's. (That is less than 19 MPH per second.) In other words, a skidding motorcycle takes longer to stop its motion than does one which is not skidding. Since the Plaintiff's motorcycle was skidding before it came to a stop, it would have stopped more quickly if its brakes had been properly applied. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff did not collide with the Defendant's motorcycle.

Recovering from a Locked Brake Skid
Locked brakes result in motorcycle tires skidding. At that time the rider no longer has control of his or her motorcycle. If a rider merely releases braking pressure, those locked brakes will unlock; and any skidding that was occurring will cease. From a safety point of view, if the motorcycle has strayed from alignment with the original direction of travel to any substantial degree, a rider must maintain his braking pressure (keep his brakes locked) to avoid an excessive yaw from crashing the motorcycle. But an alert rider can quickly determine that his brakes are locked before the motorcycle's alignment changes, and can 'save' the situation - meaning regains control - by removing braking pressure.

Instantaneous 90-degree Turn is Impossible
The suggestion that Defendant xxxxxxx made an abrupt 90-degree turn to the right and crossed the path of Plaintiff xxxxxxxx is an exaggeration of the highest order. No vehicle, automobile or motorcycle, can make an instantaneous 90-degree turn, as centrifugal force would cause that vehicle to fall/roll over onto its side if such a maneuver were attempted.

In the case of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a rapid 90-degree change of direction would also be severely limited by the fact that when any street model is leaned over by about 30 degrees, it drags its floorboards, footpegs, or other metal pieces on the ground. Since moving motorcycles must lean in order to turn at all, this lean angle limitation means that they cannot experience more than 0.5g's of lateral acceleration, while most other motorcycles can experience lateral accelerations of up to twice that amount (with lean angles of 45 degrees). What this means is that a Harley-Davidson motorcycle must make a 'sweeping' (gradual) 90-degree turn. Virtually any automobile can make a faster 90-degree turn than can a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Controlling the Motorcycle
The essence of surviving while riding a motorcycle and making the experience as safe as possible is that riders are always to be in control of the motorcycle and of themselves. That means that he or she must gain control of the motorcycle before the engine is turned on and must remain in control of it until after the engine is turned off. It also means that should control ever be lost, it must be regained at once.

There are four fundamental controls of a motorcycle: 1) the clutch lever, 2) the front brake lever, 3) the throttle, and 4) the rear brake pedal. Additionally, the handlebar and shift lever are controls operated by the rider. The first and second controls are instrumental in saving a rider's life by helping him or her to reduce threats and to gain or regain control in the event that it is lost. The third and fourth controls are the ones most often associated with causing an accident or loss of control.

Rider Errors
A rider cannot avoid motorcycle accidents if he or she lacks absolute control of the motorcycle for the entire time the rider is mounted on its seat. Failing to maintain control is a rider error. An example of failing to maintain control is dropping the motorcycle on its side, which is a crash with the pavement.

VII. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

This crash and the resulting injuries and damage to Plaintiff xxxxxxx were precipitated and proximately caused by Plaintiff's rider error in aggressively applying his brakes. This stopped the wheel rotation, causing a skid, the result of which was that his motorcycle crashed on its left side. Plaintiff xxxxxxxx made two additional rider errors, as detailed below, which were contributing causes of this accident.

A) Plaintiff xxxxxxx overused his brakes (by either applying them too quickly or with too much pressure), resulting in those brakes locking. This caused his tires to skid and then caused his motorcycle to crash to the ground. This rider error was the precipitating and proximate of Plaintiff's motorcycle crash. Furthermore, though this incident is being referred to as an 'accident', it most definitely was not that. This was a deliberate act that resulted in a loss of control of his motorcycle. Only the effect was unexpected.

On page 29 of Plaintiff's deposition, Mr. xxxxxxxx makes clear that he chose to crash his motorcycle to the ground (what he calls "laying it down"), where he testifies as follows: "I had a choice of hitting him or laying the bike down." This rider error is particularly disturbing in that it demonstrates that the Plaintiff did not learn from having caused a similar crash of his motorcycle a month earlier by overusing his brakes in a deliberate effort to "lay down" his motorcycle. Plaintiff stated in his deposition on page 25 that he believes that "laying the bike down" is a rational and viable way to avoid a crash by causing a crash when he said: "I hit the brakes, laid the bike down to avoid hitting him."

Proper use of his brakes would have certainly avoided a collision between his motorcycle and the one operated by Defendant xxxxxxxx since, when skidding or sliding, a motorcycle travels faster than when proper braking is applied; yet even while traveling faster than he would have done with proper braking, Plaintiff xxxxxxx did not collide with Defendant xxxxxx's motorcycle.

B) Plaintiff xxxxxxxxx was inattentive or distracted immediately prior to this accident, which resulted in his failing to notice that Defendant xxxxxxx's turn indicator lights were blinking, that Defendant?s motorcycle was slowing down, and that Defendant began his turn to the right in order to enter County Highway x.

Earlier during this same group ride, according to the Plaintiff's deposition testimony on page 10 and 11, Plaintiff xxxxxxx demonstrated that he had the skills and ability, including the appropriate use of his brakes, to avoid a collision between his motorcycle and that of Defendant xxxxxxxx during a U-turn maneuver in xxxxxxxxxxx. This experience provided Plaintiff notice that he could expect Defendant xxxxxx to make unexpected maneuvers during the rest of the group ride. In other words, it is inexplicable that Plaintiff xxxxxxx failed to pay attention to what Defendant xxxxxxxx was doing as they approached County Highway x.

C) Plaintiff xxxxxxxx lost control of his motorcycle soon after his tires began to skid and failed to recover that control in time to prevent his motorcycle crashing to the ground.

When a motorcycle operator locks his brakes, it is possible to recover from that rider error by simply easing pressure on the brakes. Plaintiff did not do this, nor did he even try to do so as he stated that his intention was to lay his motorcycle on the ground (crash it). As soon as a motorcycle's tires begin to skid, the rider has lost control of what happens to the bike. Loss of control is an extreme form of rider error, and that was the principal cause of this accident.

D) Plaintiff xxxxxxx failed to avoid the accident entirely by simply changing his path of travel and swerving behind Defendant xxxxx's moving motorcycle.

Whenever a collision threat presents itself in front of a moving motorcycle, the operator has only two alternative maneuvers available to avoid that collision: 1) aggressively braking in order to attempt to stop before impact, or at least to reduce the speed of impact; or 2) swerving - changing his path of travel. In this incident, the Plaintiff could have taken either alternative and been successful at avoiding colliding with Defendant xxxxx's motorcycle. Since Plaintiff xxxxxxxxx has a history of failing to use his brakes properly in an emergency situation, the swerving alternative would probably have been a better choice for him. Yet Plaintiff made no effort to swerve around this potential collision threat and elected, instead, to crash his motorcycle to the ground. This was a rider error that contributed to his crash.

E) Defendant xxxxxx's behavior was normal and without negligence. His motorcycle was an uninvolved vehicle in this accident. Neither his behavior nor his vehicle were causal in any way to this accident.

Each and every rider in a group of motorcycles, including the lead or first bike in the group, is individually responsible to ride their own ride, which includes their own safety. The lead rider has no duty as to the safety of the other riders and, thus, cannot be negligent in that regard. He or she is expected to select the path of travel for the group and its speed of travel. Nothing more. No rider in the group is compelled to be or remain in the group until it reaches its destination, nor are they compelled to follow group riding rules should they elect to do otherwise. Participation is voluntary in every way.

VIII. AFFIRMATIONS

The information contained in this report is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I have read this entire report after I completed writing it.

I would so testify to the aforementioned findings and conclusions under penalty of perjury if called upon in any subsequent civil proceedings.

Signed: ______________________________ Date: xxxxxx xx, 2xxxx
James R. Davis

ATTACHMENTS

1 Group Riding Guidelines
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/13/2017 :  10:22 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I'm hopeful that readers will have some questions about the material I posted in the report example I posted above and will bring them forward here (or, better, in a new thread).

Regulars here have all heard it before, but with 50,000,000 visitors so far, there are a lot of readers who have not heard it before or even thought about some of that material.

Let's share.
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SkootchNC
Male Advanced Member
1063 Posts
[Mentor]


raleigh, north carolina
USA

Harley-Davidson

road glide

Posted - 02/21/2017 :  8:21 AM
I have lead, or participated, in many group rides. I am a member of the "southern cruiser riding club" and our published "ride guidelines" suggest (they are guidelines) a 2 second interval between each bike in a column as a minimum, and a one second between bikes in the other column..
The problem begins when riders have no clue how long one, or two seconds are. When I give the pre-ride, I stress ONE Mississippi, TWO Mississippi
but, I also stress, that if a rider is uncomfortable with that spacing, more space is allowed.
We also go over hand signals, and they are used on every ride.

That second rider sounds like every ride leader's nightmare.

When leading a ride, besides the usual 12 seconds AHEAD, I also keep tabs on the riders behind, and have altered my routes, and speed when I notice a rider having issues... which from your report, the second rider had.
I believe a ride leader has a certain MORAL obligation, to the group. that is, getting the group to and from the destination together, and unharmed.
However.... each rider is a licensed individual, and they.... and only they, are responsible of their safety. I have politely made my exit from many rides held by other groups, including "charity events"
In fact... I usually arrive at the starting point, make my donation, collect what swag I may get, and then proceed solo, to the final stop
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 02/21/2017 :  8:53 AM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Very sound and thoughtful comments. With your attitude and apparent methods and experience, I would have no trouble participating in a ride with you as lead.

More often than not, when I've been on group rides (many, many of them), Cash has been the lead and I have been the drag (tail gunner). The dynamics of group riding are actually complex when done right, and experienced riders appreciate the effort and the nuances involved. The problem that raises its head most often is in the form of newbies - who are just learning their roles as well that dynamic.

They have no doubt heard the common 'pearls of wisdom' - follow the lead, except into danger; ride your own ride; following distance rules; etc. And while those are simple, they are also contradictory and almost meaningless to those newbies. If the lead bike sets a pace of 80 MPH in a zone marked for 65 MPH, what is that newbie to do, for example?

Cash and I were on a group ride where we pulled off the road for a rest break and observed an old salt - one who had great respect and experience with the group - proceed to yank his good-time radio out of his GoldWing and throw it to the ground. He was furious with it. Should any newbies simply ignore such anger demonstrated by one of the other riders, or should that episode be sufficient, as it was for both Cash and myself, to with courtesy and without demonstrating ill-will, exit the group and proceed on our own?

Riders are vulnerable out there. We decide what to do based on what's best for us (and safety is number one). But newbies are trying to 'join' - become part of the group - and that gets in the way of rationality. (At least it can.)

To the extent that newbies can observe (and talk to, if possible) experienced riders like yourself, REAL wisdom is shared and everybody benefits.
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Mikeydude
Male Advanced Member
742 Posts
[Mentor]


Ft. Worth, Texas
USA

Harley-Davidson

03 FXD Super Glide

Posted - 02/21/2017 :  2:12 PM
Last year I dropped out of a group and refuse to ride with these folks ever again because of some of the issues mentioned here.

Normally when I've ridden with these people (3 other rides) I have taken the tail-gunner position... and had been left behind once because the leader didn't keep an eye out for what was behind him nor did he have a system in place where he could receive signals from someone farther in the rear of the pack.

On the last occasion there were many bad situations that 'red-flagged' me. It started out as a 2 part ride. From Point-A to Point-B with one group of people; then we were to ride to Point-C and meet up with the rest of the group to ride to Point-D. I was Tail-Gunner in Ride 1 and everything was okay except 1) there was no pre-ride briefing, and 2) the leader didn't know about the rubber-band effect, and would get ahead of the group.

When we finished the ride and went to meet the 2nd group we rode the interstate to the meet-up location. When we were getting on the freeway the leader took off and totally left everyone behind and was weaving in and out of traffic until I couldn't see him anymore. I was stuck in a pack of slower moving traffic and could not catch up at all. (I didn't even try). They arrived at the meet-up about 10 minutes ahead of me. When I got there the guy apologized (sort of) and said this was the first time he'd ever ridden in a group. (Why was he leading the group?)

When we left on the 2nd part of the ride I was in 2nd position on the right behind the Road Captain (he was the actual leader of this group). Out of nowhere a 'hot-shot' from the rear came screaming ahead of me on the shoulder and muscled himself in to 2nd position, forcing me to 3rd on the left. That meant that everyone had to shift positions all the way back. I stayed with the group for about 5 more miles until I reached my limit. The lady riding next to me felt the need to prove how great of a rider she was. We would stop at stop signs and she would race ahead of me, breaking rank and leaving a large gap in the staggered formation, then she would slow and ride right next to me. I would then have to speed up a little to take my place again in formation. I refused to break the 1 second rule, and when she shot ahead of me it left a 4 second gap between myself and the bike in my lane track. This continued on at every stop sign until I finally had enough, patted my head and turned away from the group.

Later I learned that there was no vetting of any kind to allow someone to lead a ride. Nor was there any explanation of the rules (which there actually weren't any). I've never ridden with them again.

You can see there are way too many issues in this group. And the problem started with the group leader and his lack of vetting.

Since there where no releases signed, if something happens, where does responsibility lay? I would much rather NOT have an incident than to have to take it to court... So for me, the responsibility always lays with me.

Sorry for the long read... lol

Edited by - Mikeydude on 02/21/2017 2:17 PM
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