LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) -- Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Inc. faces a class action lawsuit alleging the engine on one of its most popular motorcycles has a common design defect that could pose a danger to riders stemming from excessive overheating.

California residents Michael Berke and Wolfgang Costello alleged violation of the California Unfair Competition Law earlier this month in filing the complaint both individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.

Both allege they purchased models equipped with twin cam 103 engines, only to discover the high-powered bikes run the substantial risk of causing severe burn injuries to unsuspecting riders due to their aforementioned defect. The plaintiffs also name Does 1-10 as defendants.

The complaint also stipulates that when the engines are used as designed, all the excessive heating can shorten the life of the engine on the model.

Harley-Davidson is also accused of being aware of the issue with the bikes for more than a decade, and the complaint charges company officials “concealed the dangers inherent in the engine’s design, failed to cure the known defect, and subjected its purchasers to further costs and expenses to replace or attempt to make safe said motorcycles.”

Veteran California plaintiffs attorney Raymond Boucher of the Boucher LLP firm in Woodlands Hills is representing the two men. He told Legal Newsline that his clients feel shortchanged.

“They spent enormous amounts for bikes they deeply care about only to realize they’ve been duped,” he said. “Then for them to find out that Harley-Davidson knew about the issue and had a safer alternative they could have used but didn’t makes them feel even more violated.”

The plaintiffs further asserted that Harley-Davidson systematically took advantage of its brand name to not only continue to sell the bikes but do so at a price higher than most of their competitors.

Berke and Costello seek trial by jury, an injunction ordering the defendants to repair or replace the engines on the models, all court costs and attorney fees. 

“My clients are hoping Harley will step up and provide a fix for situation,” Boucher added. “They need to right this wrong and improve the safety of the models. The last thing anyone wants is an accident.”

Attorneys for Berke and Costello also contend the bikes’ air-cooling systems are insufficient to safely cool its twin cam engines and lack the type of liquid cooling system found in most vehicles.  

“We’re just filing the complaint,” Boucher said. “It’ll be at least a couple months before we are in front of a judge, but we look forward to that day.

In addition to Boucher’s partner Shehnaz M. Bhujwala, Berke and Costello are represented by attorneys Christopher P. Ridout and Hannah P. Belknap of Zimmerman Reed LLP in Manhattan Beach, and by Gregory J. Owen, Susan A. Owen and Tamiko B. Herron of Owen Patterson & Owen LLP in Valencia.

Repeated messages to Harley-Davidson seeking comment went unanswered.

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U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
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