Bike Dealer Must Face Suit on Christmas Crash

     (CN) – Design-defect claims filed on behalf of a minor permanently injured when his Christmas gift – a Kawasaki motorcycle – crashed will be heard in New Jersey, a federal judge ruled.
     Douglas and Heather Duell, of Quinton Township, N.J., bought a new Kawasaki motorcycle from Powersports East in Bear, Del., as a Christmas present for their minor son, identified in court records as “D.D.” on Nov. 18, 2010.
     When D.D. first drove the motorcycle on Christmas Day, the bike crashed, seriously and permanently injuring him.
     The Duells filed a federal complaint in New Jersey nearly two years later against various entities including Kawasaki Motors and East Coast Cycles, the Delaware-based authorized Kawasaki dealer that runs Powersports. They said negligent assembly of the motorcycle’s throttle mechanism caused the accident.
     East Coast moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, prompting the California-based Kawasaki and the Duells to oppose.
     U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle denied the motion Thursday, finding that the dealer maintains enough contacts with New Jersey to give the court personal jurisdiction.
     The 22-page opinion notes that East Coast has maintained contacts with New Jersey for at least 10 years, has even offered to travel there to perform maintenance on bikes and, prior to the lawsuit, advertised its proximity to New Jersey online.
     The “About Us” page on East Coast’s website used to say “make Powersports East the place to shop whether you live in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland,” Simandle wrote, emphasizing the Garden State’s name.
     He added that “the ‘About Us’ section now reads: ‘make Powersports East the Place to shop no matter where you live. Come to Delaware!'”
     “New Jersey customers have purchased more than 1,900 vehicles, or 12 percent of all vehicles sold at Powersports East, which account for more than $10.3 million in revenue from New Jersey residents over the past decade,” Simandle also wrote. “These numbers are substantial. East Coast certainly can be said to benefit from the tax laws in New Jersey and Delaware that encourage New Jersey consumers to buy big-ticket items like motorcycles in Delaware rather than in New Jersey. These contacts, viewed cumulatively with evidence of East Coast’s Internet sales, which are direct contracts with New Jersey customers, advertising, and targeting of New Jersey customers on its website, show more than minimum contacts between East Coast and New Jersey.”

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