By Christina Grube
(MASS TORT NEWS) More than a month after receiving consolidation by the JPML, many expect presiding Judge William C. Griesbach to announce leadership assignments for MDL 3064, IN RE: Harley-Davidson Aftermarket Parts Marketing, Sales Practices and Antitrust Litigation, in the coming weeks. The JPML transferred plaintiff claims against Harley to the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin on February 8.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Harley’s defective warranty, which banned the use of aftermarket parts when making alterations on motorcycles. Should a buyer make any alteration to their bike not using Harley parts, their warranty would no longer apply. By barring customers from using quality aftermarket parts widely available for Harleys, the company violated both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Given the long-standing culture of customization within motorcycle communities, plaintiffs feel abused by Harley’s monopoly on parts and their supracompetitive prices. “What do people buy Harley Davidsons for other than self expression through motorcycles?” asked Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz Partner Thomas Burt.
“Its self expression,” Burt continued. “It’s a piece of Americana that goes back 120 years. It’s heavily entwined with the history of customization.” Burt explained that Harley’s market power and name recognition makes their ban on aftermarket parts “an abuse of market power,” adding, “Harley has too much market power for that to be ok.”
“Its [Harley] survived for this long because of the tremendous well of customer loyalty,” Burt said. “People feel they’re being taken advantage of because they don’t have the right to repair their own stuff.”
MTN will continue following the case as it develops.