More than 12 years after her death, a state appeals court has refused to revive a lawsuit over a motorcycle crash that killed a Lower Paxton Township woman.
A Superior Court panel made that call in denying an appeal James Anderson filed after a Dauphin County jury last year refused to award damages for the death of his 48-year-old wife, Vickie.
James Anderson claimed the fatal crash occurred in May 2005 while the couple was riding in New York because a defective rear tire on their Harley-Davidson cycle blew out. Vickie Anderson was thrown from the bike and was killed when she struck a guardrail.
Court records show James Anderson, who had been driving the cycle, sought $ 2.5 million from Pirelli Tire LLC, Harley-Davidson and other defendants, including the maker of his wife’s helmet, to settle the case before it went to trial.
The jury found in favor of the defendants, who argued the custom tire blew because it was under-inflated and the bike was overloaded. The defendants also claimed Vickie Anderson’s “shorty” helmet was not defective and that she hit the guardrail with such force that no helmet would have saved her life.
On appeal to the state court, James Anderson claimed county Judge Andrew H. Dowling should not have allowed a biomechanical engineer called as a defense witness to testify regarding whether Vickie Anderson’s helmet was safe. That testimony exceeded the engineer’s expertise, James Anderson contended.
He also insisted on appeal that Pirelli was improperly allowed to introduce facts – including the weight on the motorcycle and pressure of the tire – that inferred possible negligence on his part.
Judge H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. rejected those arguments in the state court opinion issued this week.
The weight/pressure information was admissible at trial as evidence relevant to the disputed cause of the crash, Moulton found. And, he noted, Anderson’s attorney had the chance to cross-examine the engineer regarding his knowledge of helmet design.