Wrongful Death Lawsuit Claims Harley-Davidson Throttle Defective

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in Texas, alleging that a malfunctioning electronic throttle on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle caused a fatal accident in 2008.

The Harley-Davidson lawsuit was filed in Tarrant County court by Cindy DeBartolo, whose husband, John, was killed on March 24, 2008 when he lost control of his 2008 FLHX Harley-Davidson days after repairs were supposedly made to address problems with the throttle. Cindy DeBartolo was also riding on the bike at the time of the crash and sustained serious injuries in the motorcycle accident as well.

According to the complaint, the electronic throttle malfunctioned on the motorcycle just a week after John DeBartolo purchased the Harley-Davidson bike on March 15, 2008 from Longhorn Harley-Davidson in Grand Prarie, Texas. He took the motorcycle back to the dealership for repair, and it was returned to him on March 22. The motorcycle accident lawsuit alleges that couple was riding the bike two days later when the electronic throttle failed again, causing the fatal crash.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc. and LHD Partners L.P., doing business as Longhorn Harley-Davidson, are named as defendants in the lawsuit. DeBartolo alleges that the motorcycle was defectively manufactured and unreasonably dangerous, and that the dealership failed to properly repair the electronic throttle.

In December 2009, Harley-Davidson issued an unrelated recall for more than 111,000 family touring motorcycles due to fuel tanks that could leak or catch fire after a crash. The Harley-Davidson motorcycle recall affects 22 different models of 2009 and 2010 Harley-Davidson Touring, CVO and Trike motorcycles, which were manufactured between June 6, 2008 and November 19, 2009.

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  1. Tim Reply

    2014 Harley Davidson ultra limited 2k miles

    Purchased new November 2014
    I have had intermitting problems with limp mode 12 times.
    Codes P1511, P0641 every time.

    Has been at the dealership 4 times!
    It is at the dealership now! Each time this bike has went into limp mode. I was lucky to get out of traffic. However, it has been some close calls!. Especially setting on the side of the road at night time!

    I have learned how to go into diagnostics to clear the codes. So that I can restart the bike.
    Also made a video of the last time this bike went into limp mode.

    Anyone one with any suggestions?
    As the 2007 Street Glide I traded in never gave me any problems. Regret trading that bike in!

  2. TIM Reply

    I have an 08 Streetglide with 40,000 miles bought the bike new last weekend riding in a pack of 6 bikes @80mph loss throttle bike was still running but no throttle. Pulled over and got the code to reset. Same group was at the 100th in Mil and one of the other bikes had same problem limped his bike to dealer after spending all day at dealer because they didn’t know how to fix problem they called Harley and was told they [Harley] knew of problem but no service recall was issued. They said it was a fix on fail problem.But called local dealership and asked about it today they know nothing about it. They told me they could fix it for $350.00. I can replace pins a lot cheaper myself. If Harley knows they have a problem they should step up and acknowledge it

  3. Ken Reply

    08 ultra only had 1no throttle incident no danger but could have been now check engine light not wanting to start shut ignition off then on starts took to dealer $100 to diagnose 200 to replace twist grip censer hopefully that will take care of issue sounds like I’m not alone on thinking this should be a recall issue

  4. John r Reply

    My 2013 street glide had the same throttle problem.. I called he dealership where I purchased it.. the service dept flat ass lied to me saying they haven’t heard of such problem.. yet it’s all over the internet.. then they told me my warranty expired 4 days ago.. so I was out on my own.. I have purchased 4 brand new hd’s since 1973..and am . Still waiting for them to ever fix anything that has ever gone wrong.. they are bullshit..I got tired of sitting on the road side for hours then finally called my buddy who ownes a shop in monterey. he found and fixed the problem in 2 hours.. it was a filthy green wire connector located in the handle bar behind the throttle.. Harley is probably denying knowledge of the throttle problem to avoid paying a lawsuit… they suck…

  5. sendy Reply

    Mengapa troble p 1511 and p 2135 sering muncul ? Untl ultra classic 2008

  6. Joe Reply

    2010 street glide no throttle problem like 10 times just got it like 6 days ago and I know I got it used but come on man at least fix it before I sue the S O B ‘S this is really pissing me off big time they said bring it in so they can soon what it up but I know they are goingto charge me for it

  7. LOUIS Reply

    Was on the highway with my little 10 year old girl when the throttle lost power on the outside lane doing 70 surrounded by cars and trucks had to make my way luckily past traffic could have got killed me and my daughter so disappointed in Harley less than 10000 miles on bike now they say they could take a look at it for 80 dollars an hour plus parts they know there’s a problem I’m just so glad we didn’t get killed seriously thinking of trading it in for an Indian

  8. Robert Reply

    I bought a 2008 ultra 1 year ago and have have nothing but trouble with the same issues. Finnaly took it to a dealer here in Indianapolis. They have worked on it for a week now and still claim they dont’t know why it’s going into limp mode. They replaced the ECM, showed me it had a broken pin. Put in a new one $450. Still getting the codes. Now they are telling me I need a new throttle body $550. They told me Harley will not stand behind this problem. I think something should be done. Maybe people should contact 60 minutes or Dateline!!!!! Thoroughly PISSED…

  9. chad Reply

    Just had mine go out on my 2010 Ultra Limited. After waiting for road side assistance for 2 hours, I started it up and it worked for about 20 minutes until I was on Hwy 94 outside of Milwaukee and it went limp. I had to cut across speedy traffic almost getting run off by a semi. Waited another hour and started again, and drove 10 miles, in 3rd gear, at 25 miles per hour on the shoulder, so dangerous. Dealer, Milwaukee Harley, got the bike and said this happens all the time with 09-10 Flh’s.
    I do not want to pay 1000 bucks for throttle body or sensors. I don’t know how to start a lawsuit. but I was lucky it happened yesterday and not on the dragon’s tail this weekend in Tennessee.
    This is complete bull, and it scares me to get back on this bike, which I had just had the 15k mile tune up in May 2015 ( 1500bucks only). Please respond if you know how to get a lawsuit going.

  10. James Reply

    Have a 2008 road king classic throttle stops working and check engine light comes on. Have to shut off bike let it sit comes and goes..

  11. Don Reply

    I bought a 2008 street Glide used last year no problems this year took seat off put air in shocks put seat back on started next morning no throttle took seat off put back on no problems. Then it started to idle at about 20000 then would idle down 50 miles later limp mode has gone into limp mode 3 more time since then with out a doubt this is a harley defect

  12. Ron Reply

    Bought an 08 Ultra Classic used a few years ago.25000 miles on it now having same issue. Has happened in traffic, close call. I’m afraid to ride it now. It is my ride to work. Something needs to be done. I’m ready to trade for something other than HD.

  13. Chris Reply

    I have an 09 ultra classic. Bought it used a year ago. It had 22,000 miles. For the year I owned it, it ran great with no problems. Then, cruise control started cutting out, clutch basket went to crap and was replaced. But no problems associated with limp home or full on lock. May3rd, 2015 throttle went to full lock coming out of a hairpin. Bad crash as a result. Had Harley look at bike a couple of days ago. No issues found with throttle control, ECM, or throttle body. Had an independent expert there with factory engineers to keep all parties honest. Very disappointed that there is no data showing an issue with the bike. Have 2 witnesses that saw what happened, but they are hanging it on rider error or an intermittent surge that is undetectable. Wish they were able to get data that would keep Harley feet to the fire.

  14. Robert Reply

    I also bought a 2008 streetglide and had the exact same problem. I have had a total of 4 throttle control modulators installed by a reputable Harley dealership and the problems persists. That last time it was replaced with a new one from the factory it went into limp mode less than a mile away from the dealership. The mechanics are good and know what they are doing, but apparently the problems lies with the faulty system itself. We all need to unitedly do something about it rather than post our displeasure and do nothing.

  15. Bruce Reply

    09 road king classic throttle went to limp twice in 2 years, shut the bike off and restarted it and everything was fine. The shits when you have no throttle in traffic. My lawyer and my kids know who to sue if i die because of harleys lack of responsibility. Just changed out the compensator another harley mess.

  16. Gary Reply

    Harley is a company without a conscience or shame. My 2010 Ultra Classic has nearly gotten me killed twice in traffic at speed going into limp mode. (P1511). Harley refuses to help other than to say go to the dealer. It’s been to the dealer and they gave it back to me. Gone to limp mode 4 times since I got it back. Not about to go back to the dealer as they are the ones that gave it back to me not fixed. They clearly don’t care about safety. I’m done with the garbage that is Harley Davidson. Not only do they build an unsafe product they don’t care who they kill over their defective engineering. Throttle by wire is a complete disaster.

  17. Adrian Reply

    I have an 2010 fltrx custom that i changed into a 2012 fltrxcus CVO. No problems till now on a road trip from IE to San Francisco sputtered a few times never limp mode, get on throttle and goes like no other. Comming home same thing but never limp mode. My friend said check connector on TB, common issue as noted by others so I will update later.

  18. Kevin Reply

    Hey biker friends Kevin here from Moore Oklahoma,yes my dam 2012 street glide is leaving me in some dangerous intersections lately too,check engine light flashes ,then stolls and leaves me dead in the water,i talked to Harley shop in Moore and off course all they want is money,i think I’m going to change throttle actuator my self its making noises and hoping this fixes it,i checked pins and put some degreasing silicone on plug but no help,anyone change actuator out on there own,looks pretty easy any suggestions ,thanks..

  19. Jim Reply

    Same thing with my 2011 Street Glide only 6k miles. On the interstate the other day and was passing a semi when the thing lost ALL power and went to limp/idle mode!!!!!!! Of course you call Harley and they are no help at all. Buy a $23k bike and they won’t even talk to you without charging you first. Iconic company that is only interested in the money. This is my fifth Harley and my last. Harley Davidson is going to get someone killed with equipment like this!

  20. Robert Reply

    I just went through my 2010 Street Glide’s 35K checkup. Riding from Orlando to Daytona Beach. I lost power as the Engine light came on and the bike went into Limp/Idle mode halfway there. This totally scared the female passenger on the back of my bike.
    The local Harley Davidson Shop Reset the codes, cleaned and repaired the Throttle body wires. The next time I took the bike out, I didn’t get in six miles, and it failed the same way again. The Engine light came on and the bike went into Limp/Idle mode. I took it back to Harley. They reset the codes, check the throttle codes and replaced the contacts and the throttle body. It lasted a few weeks, but I wasn’t doing any distance riding. My first attempt at a distance ride, at thirty miles into my ride, the Engine light came on and the bike went into Limp/Idle mode again. For the third time, I had to limp the bike back home, never going above thirty miles an hour. This weekend, I’m taking it back to a different HD dealership. The original HD repair shop is closed/retired. If the same failure returns, I will be pissed. I can’t go on any rides with friends out of fear the bike will break down on me during the ride. Definitely no passengers!

  21. Rico Reply

    I have a 2012 road king and I have taken it to the dealer 3 separate times. I have $1000 into their diagnostic research, They replaced the ECM terminals, tested it with a brand new ECM, speed sensor, twisted grip sensor. They replaced pins at the ECM connection.
    Now they want to replace my entire wiring harness for $1600. I took the bike back and am going to an independent mechanic to see if they can shed any light. Once i get a reply back I’ll post this.
    So far after reading all the posts, I see lots of people listing the problems but no one has listed what the solution is!!! or if they ever got it fixed!!

  22. Rosanna Reply

    Same trouble with my 08 Street Glide for 2 years now. Had the entire front not wiring replaced and no better. I can feel the power disappear from under my hand and then no throttle response. I have discovered that turning the bike off and on again helps me to get it working. Harley dealer can find nothing wrong and offed to charge me another $100. to look at it again.

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