South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Hiding Defect in Consumer Product May Be Common Law Fraud and Violation of State Statute
Description Appeals court held that a buyer of a Harley motorcycle had established a case for common law fraud and violation of the Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act by contending that the company knowingly hid defects. Such suit may be certified as a class action.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Fraud; Deceptive Trade Practices; Advertising; Class Action
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Tietsworth sued Harley-Davidson for common law fraud and violation of the Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), contending that the company concealed a known major engine defect in its 1999 motorcycles equipped with TC-88 engines. Failure of the engine could result in serious injury as well as repair costs. The trial court dismissed the suit; Tietsworth appealed.

Reversed. “Tietsworth properly alleged all of the elements of a viable common law fraudulent concealment claim: (1) Harley concealed or failed to disclose a fact; (2) Harley had a duty to disclose such a fact; (3) the fact was material to the transaction; (4) Harley knew, and intended, that its concealment of or failure to disclose the fact would create a false impression in Tietsworth; (5) Tietsworth reasonably relied upon Harley’s deceit; and (6) Tietsworth suffered benefit of the bargain damages.” The damages would be “the difference between the value of the property as represented and its actual value as purchased.” Tietsworth has also stated a claim under the DTPA. “(1) Harley advertised the motorcycles with TC-88 engines; (2) Harley’s advertising was misleading; (3) Tiestworth suffered pecuniary loss as a result of Harley’s misleading advertising.” He need not wait for the motorcycle to fail to assert DTPA claims. The claims here may be granted class certification for all similarly affected customers.

Citation Tietsworth v. Harley-Davidson, Inc., 661 N.W.2d 450 (Ct. App., Wisc., 2003)

Back to Consumer Protection Listings

©1997-2003  SW Legal Studies in Business. All Rights Reserved.