Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Case of the Aftermarket Aftermath

“Tell me, Watson, what would compel a bike enthusiast—nay, a fervent scoot-loving devotee, a gear-head so enamored of motorcycles that he opened his own aftermarket parts dealership—to petition the United States government to investigate the very industry that put meat pies on his dinner table?”

“Are you speaking of that fellow featured in the Washington Post recently, Mr. Rick Doyle, I believe?”

“The very same, Watson. Mr. Rick Doyle. A man so riddled with guilt for having sold aftermarket parts that ‘appeared to violate federal standards,’ that he launched a federal case against his own fraternity.”
ACD himself, astride a ride.
“Rather a curious name, wouldn’t you agree, Holmes? Doyle? Bit of a diphthong, I should say.”

“By the Post’s own account, Mr. Doyle was remorseful about selling custom parts that may not have met existing federal standards—undersized mirrors, custom headlights, and the like—and parts for which no federal standards yet exist. But surely one does not reweave one’s own recombinant DNA over an Arlen Ness Micro Mirror.

“Nor would a genuine bike aficionado call for additional regulations of any kind, let alone for aftermarket parts that have not been associated with increased risk. As the Post itself reported, ‘no one knows whether noncompliant or potentially dangerous parts have contributed to the problems on the roads.’ Clever phrase, that— ‘potentially dangerous parts.’ Absolutely meritless on the facts, yet imbued with subliminal emotional impact.”

“One hardly knows which syllable to accent, Holmes. DOY-ul sounds boorish, bordering on developmentally stunted, while doy-UL sounds practically French! Such an awful name, really.”

“This is no small matter, Watson. The Post quotes a veritable hot-headed league of safety custodians—NHTSA, the EPA, the American Lung Association, and, God save us, the trial lawyer tag-team duo of Joan Claybrook and Clarence Ditlow.”

“Still, the name Doyle has a familiar ring to it. Doyle … Doyle … Holmes, might I have a distant cousin named Doyle?”

“This case is a text-book example of trial by media, Watson. See here. In not one instance does the reporter definitively link unregulated aftermarket parts to injury or fatality.  Yet, in an effort to beguile us into believing such a causal relationship exists, she cites a fatality that was precipitated by a ruptured inner tube.

“Clearly, one does not conjure inner tubes when contemplating aftermarket parts. The linkage here is the source of the tube, Custom Chrome, a leading aftermarket supplier at the time. But that link snaps when we learn that Custom Chrome testified in court that the inner tube met federal, state and industry standards.

“In a desperate attempt to lead us into the valley of fear, the reporter recounts how a solitary cyclist suffered multiple injuries when the bike he built from a ‘kit’ collapsed under him. But this second stain on the industry is orders of magnitude beyond the ‘potentially dangerous’ aftermarket products. One cannot, in good conscience, conflate aftermarket parts and ‘kit bikes.’

“It seems our reporter has slapped the bike-kit angle onto her story in an effort to turbo-charge the case against the entire aftermarket industry, much in the manner of the very aftermarket industry she reviles.”

“I say, I am making no progress recollecting my relationship with a Doyle. Not unlike a writer’s block, I’m afraid.”

You following the sidebar?
“But why in heaven is Mr. Doyle embroiled in this tawdry affair? From available public records, it would seem that he has plenty else to worry about. Just two months ago, a U.S. bankruptcy court found that Mr. Doyle and his former business partners ‘failed to establish entitlement to their claims’ of more than $250,000 in common stock of their now defunct company, Hog Farm.

“Now here is where things get curious, Watson. Throughout the Post article, Mr. Doyle is described variously as ‘an Ohio motorcycle parts dealer,’ or a ‘dealer of aftermarket motorcycle parts.’ Not once is he identified with the bike-kit trade. Yet, According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, ‘approximately ten consumers have filed complaints against [Mr. Doyle’s] business. They paid from $12,999 - $19,250 for their motorcycle kits … but never received the orders or refunds.’

“It would seem, dear Watson, that Mr. Doyle was wallet-deep in the bike-kit game. Someone in that position would make an expert witness for some industrious trial lawyer pursuing class action against the aftermarket industry, wouldn’t you agree, Watson?”

“I’ve given in, Holmes. The mysterious Doyle has gotten the better of me. Up for a little telly? ‘Arthur’ is on HBO but ‘Conan’ has that delightful Martin Freeman as his guest tonight.”
Figured it out, have you?

“No time, Watson. That fellow from the American Lung Association has already said, ‘We need to go after the manufacturers and retailers,’ and I take him at his word. The game is afoot. A class-action suit is in the offing. We need to act fast if justice is to be served.”