Former Marine Sues Harley-Davidson Dealership For Exploiting His PTSD To Sell Him A New Motorcycle

5678A 25 yo former Marine named Brett Smit is alleging that a Harley-Davidson dealership in Irvine, California took advantage of his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to sell him with a brand new motorcycle. In a first case ever of this nature, on October 30th the Marine has filed a lawsuit against the dealership. Smith claims that he entered the dealership in early April and purchased the $17,000 bike. According to court documents his family attempted to return the bike two days later claiming the man had purchased it after being awake for five continuous days due to insomnia and wasn’t thinking straight.

Smith’s attorney, Daniel states that the former Marine was a member of the Special Forces and was deployed to Afghanistan. He was discharged from the service in 2010 due to his PTSD diagnosis and traumatic brain injury. “That day is very much a dream-like recollection to him,” said Gilleon. “He wasn’t completely aware of what he was doing. At one point, the salesperson even gave him water so that he could take his Xanax. He took three while he was there.”

Smith, who is married, was unemployed at the time and according to court documents entered the dealership on a whim. After pacing, acting “jittery”, and sweating profusely, he allegedly told employees he had PTSD and planned to ride the bike from the West Coast dealership straight through to Georgia. Additionally, Smith claims he told the dealership that he did not have a motorcycle license. He rode away from the dealership with his new Harley-Davidson…

Court documents state that Smith opted to ride to Georgia starting the next day and rode home after leaving the dealership. He evidently stuffed his backpack full of clothes, fruit, and a PlayStation before riding 40 miles and realizing that he didn’t have any money with him at which point he returned home. He checked into a hospital later under a 10-day psychiatric hold and opted to sue the dealership for unfair business practices since they refused to take the Harley back.

Smith attorney claims that the dealership and Motor Company “just blew it off”. “Harley-Davidson touts itself as an all-American, patriotic company, but patriotic is as patriotic does,” said Gilleon. “They exploited his mental condition because they were trying to make a sale. They got one but they also got a lawsuit in addition to that.” Or is it buyer remorse? The dealership has declined to comment. (photography @ abc news)

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40 Responses to “Former Marine Sues Harley-Davidson Dealership For Exploiting His PTSD To Sell Him A New Motorcycle”


  1. 1 BobS Nov 10th, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Two sides to every story. I think Smith’s lawyer is the one taking advantage of his PTSD, he should have told him to just sell the bike and take his hit. Now he’s going to take a much bigger hit paying a lawyer to lose this case for him.

  2. 2 Ricky Nov 10th, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Sympathy & final judgment will favor the Vet, mainly for emotional reasons.

  3. 3 Brett Wagner Nov 10th, 2013 at 9:53 am

    And why so much time before trying to return the motorcycle?

  4. 4 Scout101 Nov 10th, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Dealer should have taken back the bike instead of hurting himself with bad publicity. I/m pretty sure local Vets are going to buy their bikes somewhere else.

  5. 5 Josh Parker Nov 10th, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Dealer is going to settle or lose.

  6. 6 Brenner Nov 10th, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Should a business take in consideration the mental health of the customers? A business can also be condemned for refusing to sell to an individual…

  7. 7 George Bradwell Nov 10th, 2013 at 10:02 am

    From a legal point of view, it’s an interesting case. Cyril, update us.

  8. 8 666 Nov 10th, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Bull sh#t !!! Whats next take it back because I was high? I was arguing with my wife? I was just tryin to impress the girl I was with? I just wanted the bike to cure my ED? I hope the dealer wins and the so called vet takes it in the shorts

  9. 9 bobx Nov 10th, 2013 at 10:48 am

    interesting it is.

    and yea, i could see that had they refused to sell to him, this story would’ve been about how the dealership didn’t support the troops and vets.

  10. 10 Terence Tory Nov 10th, 2013 at 10:49 am

    The giving him water to take his meds is a good one in his corner for the case.If someones a vet,got PTSD and pacing around not compos mentos he may not be legally competent to enter into a complex contract.

  11. 11 dannyb278 Nov 10th, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I can sympathize with the PSD but this guy is also an adult. Adults need to be responsible for their actions. The dealer isn’t responsible to or qualified to make decisions concerning the customers mental state.

  12. 12 McGillicutty Nov 10th, 2013 at 11:03 am

    This is a Lose-Lose for Harley-Davidson and the dealership. Stupid to challenge this Marine veteran. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about perception and perception is reality! The brotherhood of military veterans could view this as an affront to one of their own. Harley corporate should have quietly eaten the few thousand $ they’d lose by selling it as used bike and moved along. They don’t want to die on this hill. Good management is how you manage the exceptions and not every problem is textbook 101. This could potentially be a marketing disaster for HD if the major networks picked up this story with the theme of so much for Harley’s ‘Red, White and Blue’ bullshit. Way to make an enemy HD! BTW, Happy Veterans Day!

  13. 13 Alan Nov 10th, 2013 at 11:14 am

    only in the usa

  14. 14 BobS Nov 10th, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I just have to add two more cents seeing how this thread is going. Being active duty or a vet should earn someone three things. Respect, admiration, and gratitude. But it should not mean special treatment. If I walk into a dealer tomorrow, act like I don’t feel good, ask for a glass of water to take a pill…and then proceed to tell a salesperson I want to buy that bike…of course they’re going to sell it to me. If I take it riding for a few days and then go ask for a full refund claiming I wasn’t of sound mind when I bought it…whose going to support me, and whose going to say I should take personal responsibility for my own actions? Everyone who brings the fact that the person in question is a vet, the lawyers, the media that picks up the story, the people talking about the story…everyone who uses the fact that he’s a vet as an excuse for him getting special treatment is trying to manipulate his service to the country. Shameful. I think all of our servicemembers deserve better than that.

  15. 15 Seymour Nov 10th, 2013 at 11:57 am

    It will be forgotten about by tomorrow

  16. 16 Warrior Poet Nov 10th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I’ll tell you what’s BS. The Marine was not Special Forces.

  17. 17 Rodent Nov 10th, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Sounds like a great scam

  18. 18 fuji Nov 10th, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Happy birthday Marines . Semper Fi

  19. 19 Meh Nov 10th, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    If his TBI is that severe he shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle, let alone buying one, but that doesn’t mean that he PRESENTED sufficient symptoms at the dealer to call his mental competence into question.

    TBI and PTSD don’t necessarily render a person mentally incompetent. Taking Xanax doesn’t mean a person is mentally incompetent. I was prescribed them after my wife died and they aren’t even intoxicating unless you ignore the directions. Taking them doesn’t mean you can’t enter a legal contract.

    Sad story all around. It’s going to be tough to confront that TBI can cause irreversible and also continuing mental deterioration. With the lack of old-school institutional treatment this will mean lots of semi-treated vets running around having bad times.

  20. 20 Smittydog Nov 11th, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I’m with you 666,What’s next.

  21. 21 hark Nov 11th, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Any person that walks into a Harley-Davidson dealership and buy a bike owns that bike. How in the world could the dealership had known. Thousands of PTSD vets ride motorcycles…it is a way to get out on two wheels are free your mind…I think it would be good for nearly anyone that needs Freedom from stress. This case is proof that people will sue for anything these days.

  22. 22 Keith Brinton Nov 11th, 2013 at 9:38 am

    America is becoming the land of whiners and excuse makers. Funny how he can remember taking exactly 3 Zanex in front of his salesman but he did not have the mental capacities required to make his purchase. His attorney should have told him to pull up his big boy panties and stop blaming others for his bad decisions. Unfortunately this sort of thing is happening all the time in our courts. Just another case of some jack weed attorney trying to make easy money by filing a lawsuit and hoping for a fast settlement.

  23. 23 kombi66 Nov 11th, 2013 at 9:57 am

    i’ll tell i was in the car biz for more than a lil while and it’s almost a slam dunk that the dealer will lose in court…. and as a vet with ptsd also this dealer should have said fuck it and taken his hit hit

  24. 24 kombi66 Nov 11th, 2013 at 9:58 am

    it’s about perception and perception is reality!

  25. 25 Terence Tory Nov 11th, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Keith Brinton, birds can count and remember at least three things.But I’ve never seen a turkey riding to Reno on a Hog on finance.

  26. 26 Matt W. Nov 11th, 2013 at 10:25 am

    “Mr. Smith before I can issue you the title for this bike I must first show you a series of ink blots and you tell me what is the first image that comes to mind ?”

    Dealers employ sales people not psychologists.

  27. 27 BC Nov 11th, 2013 at 11:20 am

    If he is that impared should he be let out of the house alone? What else might he do or buy? Just wondering……

  28. 28 Kroeter Nov 11th, 2013 at 11:52 am

    He shoulda asked for the military discount.

  29. 29 Tobby Nov 11th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    He financed the bike. That required a contract. IF he was acting strange, and clearly mentally impaired then per California statute, and most other states, he, and HD Finance (or whoever financed it), can not enter into that contract.

    Per the story he disclosed that he had PTSD to the staff. One must be of sound mind to enter into a contract. It is the finance manager’s job to REASONABLY determine if someone is competent to enter into a contract (that is in the master loan brokerage agreements for the HD finance and any other lender that the dealer might use). This includes, alcohol, drugs and mental incapacity. If the facts of the case show that a normal person would find that the Marine was mentally impaired then the dealer will lose in court.

    -How he got a loan without a job is another story.

    -The lack of a motorcycle license is irrelevant to the purchase.

    -The dealer and HD have already lost far more than they can ever gain. Simple business decision. Take the bike back and put it in the rental fleet.

  30. 30 morpion Nov 11th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    i hope the dealer will win,,a contract is a contract,,you sign at the bottom of the page,,or maybe his parents endorse him ,,,,,,,

  31. 31 Terence Tory Nov 11th, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Hey Morpion,if a monkey gets a monkey bike from a Honda dealers floor and puts his thumbprint on a piece of paper does that mean by your legal logic: “hey-hey its the Monkees.”?

  32. 32 bigitch Nov 11th, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    well come on all you big strong men, uncle sam needs your help again
    way down yonder in the desert land, a dumpy place call afghanistan

    so pack up your books pick up a gun, we’re gonna have a whole lot of fun

    and it’s 1, 2, 3 what are we fight for?
    don’t ask me i don’t give a damn
    next stop is muslim land
    and it’s P T S D
    open up the mental gates
    well there ain’t no time to wonder why

    whoopie we’re all gonna cry!

  33. 33 morpion Nov 12th, 2013 at 10:10 am

    hey terence tory,,i did not know that a monkey could buy and ride a motorcycle,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,hey-hey,it,s the monkees,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  34. 34 1550tc Nov 12th, 2013 at 10:52 am

    All 3 are losers buyer, dealer and lawyers

    Typical USA sue someone mentality……dealer is the real loser why buy 2000 gross profit of bad puplicity. How dumb F-king can an hd dealer be ?..not dumb enough 🙁

  35. 35 mkv Nov 12th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Sorry there is no cooling off period in CA except for USED motorcycles. He should have bought a used motorcycle.

  36. 36 Terence Tory Nov 12th, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    mkv,if the guy was not able to make a rational decision to purchase due to mental incapacity a court or jury would rule that the contract for finance and sale was null and void from the point he signed for it.Mental health issues would trump consumer laws in most jurisdictions all around the civilized world.Cooling off is a red herring in this case.

  37. 37 Bigalyts Nov 13th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    The Law is…………………………WTF cares when something like this happens with an ETHOR Injection. Clearly, the Vet was under the influence, and ..Take the Bike back! The Dealer never Registered the bike for the Soldier, not in 2 days. Therefor the Bike was not used. This $4,500 Profit from the sale of the Motorcycle, has cost the Dealership 10 Deals already. I don’t care How many sides of the Deal there are. Any Negative Issues from a Vet is “Sticky”. IRVINE HD has almost Nothing to Gain and their Reputation to loose. .Already bullshit Cites like “RIPOFF.com” are Posting all kinds of Internet Poison. and negative, deal Killer Posting about Irvine Harley Davidson!!!!!!!

  38. 38 Johnny O Nov 13th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Harley GREED will give them what they have coming one of these days. Around here you cant buy a Harley on a contract without having a m/c endorsement. You can’t even test ride one thru their parking lot. The only way is to pay cash for the bike, get on it and go. But then ,salesmen never have been the sharpest tool in the shed either, it’s your money they want , they could care less about your well being.

  39. 39 Blackmax Nov 13th, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    This is a Lose-Lose situation with no way out for the dealer and the Motor Company
    Cut your losses and eat the bike & hope it all goes away quickly

  40. 40 Sark Nov 15th, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Sell the bike if you don’t want it anymore you baby.

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