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beanbag
06-10-2013, 07:12 AM
So here's my situation: An acquaintance of mine is building an esoteric-looking motorcycle for an art show. When he had me make some parts, I mentioned that they were a little questionable in terms of their strength, but since it was for an art show, all it needed to do was hold together to let the bike roll around. Now he mentions that there is a buyer for this, and he intends to ride around on it. :eek: So I told him to go talk to some kind of a lawyer person to see what he has to do for liabilities.

Does anybody know what kind of options are available to him (the designer) in order to not get sued in case something were to break? Such as no warranty, disclaimers, having a "real" engineer sign off, keeping it as non-street-legal "art work" and whatever the buyer does is not his problem, etc?

And secondly, what can I do to keep people from coming after me? (even if the part that breaks is not mine) I am not sure that simply making the part according to the drawing is enough. If I tell him "yeah, that looks pretty iffy, maybe you better make it thicker..." does that make me complicit as a designer?

I read some other threads related to this issue, and will preemptively include these blurbs:

Sometimes there are spam lawsuits where the plaintiff will try to sue everybody peripherally related.
Yes, anybody can sue anybody else.
If you are sufficiently poor, they might ignore you.
LLC may or may not help?
Having insurance is an invitation for them to sue you.

I realize that two options are to not do the work (therefore not making future money), and talk to a lawyer myself (therefore spending money right away).

I am hoping to get some practical and realistic (i.e. based on experience and probabilities) advice on what is done in these situations, and not dire warnings based on fringe cases that just make me want to stay home and lock the doors.

Ed.
06-10-2013, 07:51 AM
Perhaps you can get an signed indemity form from him saying that this item/parts is art and for show only and not designed for actual use and that it/they are not to be used for any purpose other than for show and are conditionally sold to him on the condition that he agrees and understands this, and that if onsold after they leave your possesion that he agrees that he will be solely liable for any and all damages or claims should they arise, and that he takes full responsibilty for the design and structural strength of the parts which were made to his specifications and approved by him after manufacture as complying with his specifications.

Although you would need to get a legal person to draft it up to make sure that all the wording is correct and no loopholes exist to nullify this form and it's liability waiver. Costly now.. maybe, but not as much as when it all goes horribly wrong and someone starts to look for people to point fingers at. Once that happens I think that he will be seriously think about onselling it as anything except "Art" as it will be his problem.

Hope this helps.

Ed.

big job
06-10-2013, 07:53 AM
Just my thoughts, first as on TV LLC is cheap enough fast no big red tape thing.
Second when a customer requires a part as you mention, You or the customer
provide a "job order" or drawing (specs) and have him or her SIGN it as
approved. Two copies when finished take pictures. I say this when you
seem to get that gut feeling. If you ever end up in court, you must make proof
you cant go there with empty pockets. All in print the part was machined with
this, (material) it was or was not hardened, it was machined to customer
specs. WHICH WAS SIGNED AS APPROVED, THE copy of job order , the bill
invoice two pics. throw it in the file cabinet. Now the plaintif has to prove that
a failure was a machinist flaw or shoddy workmanship and the defendant
provides written proof that, thats what the customer wanted . Example customer
says ok make it out of plastic, paint it flat black, its only a prop. Then the
customer sells it, someone get hurt>>ya all go to court=BUT customer
approved the job order, thats what was required, guess the burdon of proof
is on the customer. Beleive me Ret. Police Sgt. with court officer duty.

jep24601
06-10-2013, 08:40 AM
LLC gives you no protection, it just makes it harder for someone to collect from you.
It will cost you $25,000 to defend against a lawsuit using a lawyer so you get sued knowing that they will get $5,000 out of you to just go away.
Your only protection is to own nothing - house in trust - equipment and cars owned by wife or trust. Welcome to the USA!

vpt
06-10-2013, 08:45 AM
Take cash only for the part. Then when they come question you, "What part? I didn't make that."

beanbag
06-10-2013, 09:05 AM
Take cash only for the part. Then when they come question you, "What part? I didn't make that."

I don't know if lying, denying, or lack of evidence on your part works.

garyhlucas
06-10-2013, 09:19 AM
Okay, this is real interesting because i got sued! I built a machine that did not work well but someone wanted to buy it. I was working for a startup by a friend and gave it to him, no money. He sold it to the guy who wanted it for 10k. A year goes by and we both get served because someone got hurt on the machine. He is incorporated, and hasn't broken even yet. His lawyer says defense could easily cost 100k so close up and lawsuit goes away. I lose my job and have to hire my own attorney. No one wants the case, no pot of gold at the end of a defense! I find an attorney and he wants a financial statement! I tell him to bill me every day, I'lll pay him every day. When the money stops the work stops.

The guy got hurt because they took all guards off. My lawyer deposed lots of people. EVERYONE lied in the depositions! Everyone except the guy who got hurt. His testimony revealed that he actually got hurt on a COPY of my machine! It was built as a mirror image. So I am off the hook right? 3 months goes by and my attorney comes to me with an 'offer' to settle for just 30k! I've already spent 15k, and I go ballistic. I tell him to write a letter to the judge and get me out because no lawyers are getting another dime! I'll spend myself into bankruptcy before the trial. The judge agrees I did nothing wrong and lets me out. The employer couldn't be sued because of workman's comp laws.

I've since done several consulting jobs with the ultimate defense. I get payroll deductions and a W2, and they can't sue me.

Be sure of one thing. When someone gets hurt everyoe gets sued. In the search for deep pockets or lots of people paying a little.

Randolph
06-10-2013, 09:33 AM
Be very careful here. Back in the 1960's my brother and I ran a fabrication shop in our home town. A local official, he was in charge of an LBJ job corps center in this part of the world, came to us to have a trailer hitch installed on his personal car, a 1964 Dodge sedan. In the negotiation stage he insisted that he was only going to use it to pull a small utility trailer with a lawn mower in it. We installed what was basically a bumper hitch on his car. Within two weeks we saw the car with a two horse trailer --- with two horses in it! --- hooked to it. The hitch didn't fail, we were lucky there, but we learned the lesson.

vpt
06-10-2013, 09:38 AM
I don't know if lying, denying, or lack of evidence on your part works.



What are you talking about? I didn't build anything.

MichaelP
06-10-2013, 09:38 AM
I don't know if lying, denying, or lack of evidence on your part works.Isn't this what lawyers do/suggest routinely when they defend criminals?

vpt
06-10-2013, 09:44 AM
Isn't this what lawyers do/suggest routinely when they defend criminals?


;)


In all honesty, if your not going to lie about building the part to stay out of trouble when it comes, DON'T BUILD THE PART. No piece of paper is going to keep you out of trouble once that part leaves your shop.

GNM109
06-10-2013, 09:52 AM
It's been mentioned above that you should be working from a print. The print should show all domensions, tolerances, radii, finishes, hardness and materials to be used. With a print and having been incorporated (you did incorporate when you decided to make motorcycle parts, didn't you?), you will be better off when you are sued.

I say better off when you are sued, because the rule in the US anyway for who gets sued in products liability is anyone in the chain of commerce. That could be the designer, the material supplier, the owner of the machine and the machinist who made the part.

Anyone can be sued at anytime for anything by anyone. It may not stick, but it can cost you your house if the facts are right. YMMV

Arthur.Marks
06-10-2013, 10:16 AM
Sorta along the lines of gary's horror story... I never understood what the damn purpose of incorporation is! I've seen first hand that when a lawsuit rears its head, the plaintiff always sues BOTH the business AND the individual. So, then, what is the point of a "Limited Liability Corporation" or even a full fledged "Incorporation"?? Supposedly, the explanation is they separate the individual from the business, but as I said, I've seen that simply not be the case -- or even if it is in some über technical sense, it does not hold any practical weight in the resulting financial protection of the defendant. :confused:
(I apologize and know I'm not really advancing this thread...)

jep24601
06-10-2013, 10:27 AM
So, then, what is the point of a "Limited Liability Corporation"..... [/SIZE][/COLOR]

According to my lawyer it adds obstacles to the collection of a judgement.

Abner
06-10-2013, 10:45 AM
A neighbor asked me to design and build a rack to hold his four wheeler sideways on his full sized pickup. Sideways loading. As he was talking me mentioned that he jack-knifed his 28' trailer on a simple curve sliding sideways across both lanes of traffic. Luckily no one was coming so the damage was his alone. I envisioned his 'above the bed rails' four wheeler flying through the air hitting some small car full of kids and said NO - I don't want the liability.
So he went and bought a commercially built one. They made him watch a video on proper loading and sign off on it. First time- FIRST TIME - loading he over shoots the truck bed flies off the other side landing on concrete the four wheeler hitting him. Lucky to be alive and with permanent disability to his shoulder. I have never been so grateful to turn down work.

My advice see if you can stop the sale based on the unit being non road legal, not designed by an engineer, etc. Sue him for breach of contract - 'art' vs 'actual use'. Buy the parts backs or steal them. Product liability can last up to 20 years - check with a lawyer.

I turn down work on anything you ride or use on highways. It really is a big boys game, you don't sound like you are in that line of work big enough to buy insurance.

As to the incorporation protection. I believe you need to have enough insurance to cover the worst situation your product can cause and then have the corporation indemnify you. No there is no protection outside of insurance.

As to law suits. EXPECT people to lie under oath. I have learned this the hard way. You need to be able to prove everything yourself, without relying on someone else, especially if that person has something to loose, or wants to protect a friend. Only when you have complete irrefutable proof can you can expect the truth to be told.

Rustybolt
06-10-2013, 10:47 AM
You could just draw up a disclaimer. Something along the lines of; Once this part or machine leaves this shop I'm no longer responsible for its use or disposition.
Have the customer sign it.

taydin
06-10-2013, 11:04 AM
My advice see if you can stop the sale based on the unit being non road legal, not designed by an engineer, etc. Sue him for breach of contract - 'art' vs 'actual use'.

This is what I would do, too... It doesn't matter what the outcome of this legal action is, it will be in the database of the justice system. So later when the owner of the bike brings a lawsuit, it will be clear that you have made your best effort to prevent the sale. The owner will only be able to sue the seller of the bike.

GNM109
06-10-2013, 11:13 AM
According to my lawyer it adds obstacles to the collection of a judgement.

Yes, it does. If you dealt with the customer as a corporation at all times and complied with all of the requirements for a valid (De Jure) corporation, then if there is a suit, damages would only be available from the assets of the corporation itself. In some cases that might be no more than a machine, a desk, chair and a telephone.

GEP
06-10-2013, 11:21 AM
The laws very from state to state in the us. You build the part with out any guarantee's.The seller and designer has the liability if he miss represents the item in question.
I think you are in the clear.
Its just like selling a car as is, the buyer goes out and hot rods it and blows the engine then he come back and wants his money back. As soon as the car was of your property and you got paid the car belongs to the person that bought it.
I say build the parts

jep24601
06-10-2013, 11:53 AM
The seller and designer has the liability........


Well now , that would all depend on who the designer was or what part the defendant has in the design process if he wasn't working to an exact drawing with specifications. If someone wants to sue you they will sue you, and if they need to hire an "Expert" to lie against you they will do that. You can't eliminate the possibility of being sued, you have to be ready for it. If you defend and win a case against you, you will still be out tens of thousands of dollars.

Jaakko Fagerlund
06-10-2013, 12:38 PM
USA - land of the ridiculous law suits and/or laws pertaining to them.

Best option: don't do anything without a print.

GNM109
06-10-2013, 12:46 PM
USA - land of the ridiculous law suits and/or laws pertaining to them.

Best option: don't do anything without a print.

Why yes, that's true. I even understand that Finland has no lawyers or courts wih judges and everybody always gets along.

Dr Stan
06-10-2013, 12:51 PM
Best option: don't do anything without a print.

As others have said this is a must. A print is a legal document that can be presented in court and it does not have to be in CAD, from a drafting board, or even completed by someone formally trained in drafting. You should however insist that the title block contain information such as type of material, heat treating, general tolerances, and the printed name of whomever drew it. It would also be wise to have the requester sign the print. Keep the signed original on file and make photo copies of the ones you use in the shop.

In short, CYA big time.

On edit: inspect the part and hand write the measurements on a copy of the print. This can serve as an inspection report. Make a copy of the bill of sale of the material and any subed out work, HT, plating, etc. Package all these together and keep them in a very safe place. This is basically how we did it when making government parts at a civilian shop where I worked. Never knew when we would get hit with an audit.

Frank K
06-10-2013, 12:54 PM
USA - land of the ridiculous law suits and/or laws pertaining to them.

Best option: don't do anything without a print.

The print won't necessarily save you. When the part fails and you wind up in court the attorneys will ask if you consider yourself a competent machinist. If you're an idiot and say "NO" you'll be sued for improperly fabricating the item in question. If you say "of course I am" they'll ask why you didn't see that the design was flawed. If you claim not to have seen the defect, well...see option #1 above. If you claim to have seen the design shortcomings you'll be asked why you didn't point this out to the designer IN WRITING before fabrication.
That's why lawyers are rich and machinists are not.

michigan doug
06-10-2013, 01:10 PM
You cannot reliably limit or relieve your responsibility by having a client sign a waiver. For example:

This part seems dodgy and flimsy to me, but you state that it's only for artwork, so I agree to make it to your specifications. So, if anything bad happens b/c somebody used the bike for something besides artwork, I'm not responsible.


This sounds good, but it won't stop lawsuits. It does make you legal position somewhat better, but there are still no guarantees.

Good luck!

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Seek a competent lawyer to give fact based legal advice based on your specific situation.


doug

Jaakko Fagerlund
06-10-2013, 01:23 PM
If you say "of course I am" they'll ask why you didn't see that the design was flawed.
"I am a machinist, not a designer. My job is to make parts designed by OTHERS."

Black_Moons
06-10-2013, 01:23 PM
Id get him to sign something that states its for art use only and you 100% disallow any human from riding the bike the parts are installed on. Infact id disallow them even being 'motorcycle' parts and have 36pt font on the top of the contract 'For ART USE ONLY, Not for use on private/public roads, not for offroad use, Not for use by humans, Not for use on motorbikes, For fixed place ART INSTALLATIONS ONLY"

And then never do anymore bike work again. Way to much chance for death and injury. And when the owner dies, any agreements between you and him not on paper die with him, And the family may very well sue, having being told what a wonderful job you did by the deseased family member on those parts he 'just installed' (2 years ago) on his bike.

Nobody has to be right for you to be bankrupted by the lawsuit, Lawyers will take the offense side of the lawsuit just on the chance they get paid out*. They won't take your defence for free.

* Also to make more work for there friends the defence lawyers. For every lawyer who works for free, Another has to be paid to work against him. What a wonderful system? Always enough work to go around for the lawyers! All you need to do is work free half the time and charge 10x as much as your labour is worth the rest of the time.

dfw5914
06-10-2013, 01:37 PM
You can be sued no matter what and for any reason. http://www.cnn.com/US/9905/21/no.lawyers.allowed/

Evan
06-10-2013, 02:16 PM
Major difference between Canada and the US tort systems is punitive damages. Here, punitive damages aren't often granted unless the grievance is something that deserves "Special and highly exceptional damages ordered by a court against a defendant where the act or omission which caused the suit, was of a particularly heinous, malicious or highhanded nature." (1) When they are granted they tend to be in the 4 figures, rarely in the low 5 figures and the most ever granted was around 1 million, by the Supreme Court of Canada. Further, to be awarded punitive or exemplary damages here you must show malicious conduct on the part of the defendant. That is extremely hard to prove. Also, only the judge can make such an award.

The US system has drifted far from the common law on which it was based. In tort law punitive damages are rarely granted in most other jurisdictions and in many are not granted at all. In Canada only actual damages are granted in most cases.

(1) http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/P/PunitiveDamages.aspx

snowman
06-10-2013, 03:05 PM
Okay, this is real interesting because i got sued! I built a machine that did not work well but someone wanted to buy it. I was working for a startup by a friend and gave it to him, no money. He sold it to the guy who wanted it for 10k. A year goes by and we both get served because someone got hurt on the machine. He is incorporated, and hasn't broken even yet. His lawyer says defense could easily cost 100k so close up and lawsuit goes away. I lose my job and have to hire my own attorney. No one wants the case, no pot of gold at the end of a defense! I find an attorney and he wants a financial statement! I tell him to bill me every day, I'lll pay him every day. When the money stops the work stops.

The guy got hurt because they took all guards off. My lawyer deposed lots of people. EVERYONE lied in the depositions! Everyone except the guy who got hurt. His testimony revealed that he actually got hurt on a COPY of my machine! It was built as a mirror image. So I am off the hook right? 3 months goes by and my attorney comes to me with an 'offer' to settle for just 30k! I've already spent 15k, and I go ballistic. I tell him to write a letter to the judge and get me out because no lawyers are getting another dime! I'll spend myself into bankruptcy before the trial. The judge agrees I did nothing wrong and lets me out. The employer couldn't be sued because of workman's comp laws.

I've since done several consulting jobs with the ultimate defense. I get payroll deductions and a W2, and they can't sue me.

Be sure of one thing. When someone gets hurt everyoe gets sued. In the search for deep pockets or lots of people paying a little.

You are average. If you don't have anything to collect, the lawsuit is going to go away. They can only collect real assets, and most of the time, the value of a machine shop by the time the lawyers and the auctioneers get their bills paid, leaves nothing for the plaintiff....so the lawsuit goes away.

Anybody have any knowledge of small time machine shops getting sued for damages, not having insurance, where it actually had any net effect on the shop?

The Artful Bodger
06-10-2013, 04:03 PM
If you do honest work you wont be sued, provided you live in New Zealand.


Because of the wide range of help available from ACC after an injury, you can’t sue for personal injury in New Zealand, except for exemplary damages. This applies to overseas tourists too.
(See http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/overview-of-acc/introduction-to-acc/index.htm)

beanbag
06-10-2013, 04:59 PM
You are average. If you don't have anything to collect, the lawsuit is going to go away. They can only collect real assets, and most of the time, the value of a machine shop by the time the lawyers and the auctioneers get their bills paid, leaves nothing for the plaintiff....so the lawsuit goes away.

Anybody have any knowledge of small time machine shops getting sued for damages, not having insurance, where it actually had any net effect on the shop?

I am primarily interested in this case too, in which only individuals are involved and not big companies.

Due to my "ascetic lifestyle", I don't have a whole lot of assets anyway, heh. How do they know you are poor and then decide not to sue? Do they sue first, and then you tell them you are poor, and then they say "oh, never mind"?

Paul Alciatore
06-10-2013, 05:05 PM
The print won't necessarily save you. When the part fails and you wind up in court the attorneys will ask if you consider yourself a competent machinist. If you're an idiot and say "NO" you'll be sued for improperly fabricating the item in question. If you say "of course I am" they'll ask why you didn't see that the design was flawed. If you claim not to have seen the defect, well...see option #1 above. If you claim to have seen the design shortcomings you'll be asked why you didn't point this out to the designer IN WRITING before fabrication.
That's why lawyers are rich and machinists are not.

I would not ever make a part where the print or the buyer says it is a "Xxxxx" for motorcycle or a car or truck or a medical device, etc. Or where I get such knowledge of the intended use from ANY source. I would only accept the work if the print simply says to make a part of a particular material and to specified dimensions, etc. NO mention what-so-ever of it's use. As soon as the buyer brings the purpose of the part into my knowledge, the purchase is off. Even if I know that it is likely or possibly to be used for such a purpose from the buyer's background or job or company. Now if he wants a puzzle piece or a paper weight or some other use where human life or safety is never at risk, I would probably consider it. But even then, I would want to have liability insurance that pays both legal fees and any amounts awarded in court.

If he still really wants it, include the price of 20 years of liability insurance in the price. Suddenly the big guys look real reasonable.

sansbury
06-10-2013, 06:58 PM
In my day job my company sells a software product, and our standard contract has a few clauses in it like the following, you'd probably want something similar.

- "(My Company) makes no warranties express or implied as to the suitability of the Service (i.e. our product) for Subscriber's business purposes." I would change this to something like "Customer agrees that FRANK'S MACHINE SHOP makes no warranties express or implied as to the suitability of Part(s) for Purchaser's intended use."

- "(My Company's) liability shall be limited to no more than the amount of all subscription fees paid by Subscriber." Pretty self-explanatory.

I would also add an "Indemnification Clause" see here- http://voices.yahoo.com/what-indemnification-clause-3321892.html?cat=17 for a typical one. Basically an Indemnification Clause means that if you get sued by someone down the chain, the buyer of the part is liable to pay for your defense.

As has been said elsewhere, none of these things is a guarantee it will work out that way or get you out cheap, but it won't hurt.

One thing I'd consider is that if there's any question at all about the part and risks, I'd only do it if the buyer is a proper business and not just Joe off the street. Joe's Motorcycle Shop can be assumed to have some knowledge about proper design and use of motorcycle parts and would be less likely to sign away his rights in a contract without understanding what he's doing. Joe Random Dude however would be more likely to presume that Frank's Machine Shop knows something about designing parts even if Frank says he don't know $#@!-all

Evan
06-10-2013, 07:33 PM
I have always been amazed at software licenses. They basically say that you have no warrantee and the product will probably not work well. If you have a problem we will give you the money back on the box it came in, about 50 cents. Other than that we will get you if you do anything at all with the product, especially if you test it in public or complain, because we did not sell it to you. We only give you the right to try and make it work and not if anyone can see you. Good luck, sucker.


Joe's Motorcycle Shop can be assumed to have some knowledge about proper design and use of motorcycle parts...

I wouldn't expect him to know squat about design and neither would a court. That is the job of a mechanical engineer, not Joe. He may know something about how to use the part, maybe even correctly but that also isn't a sure thing.

Rosco-P
06-11-2013, 11:24 AM
You could just draw up a disclaimer. Something along the lines of; Once this part or machine leaves this shop I'm no longer responsible for its use or disposition.
Have the customer sign it.

Doubt that any disclaimer, even one written by a lawyer would fully protect you. You made the part, knowing it's application, weakness and potential failure mode. You are responsible. That's why I turn away customers wanting suspension riser blocks/brackets, brake disc/system modifications and other stuff that can come back to bite you through improper use, installation or poor "imagineering". Not worth the money. You want fancy road pegs for your hog or a "Billet" kickstand? Fine. Motor mounts? Go pound sand up your ass.

beanbag
06-18-2013, 06:08 AM
I'm back to provide an update and some closure.

I spoke to the guy and we agreed that I am only going to make the parts for prototype and art show stuff. He is actually pretty far from selling the bike for street use, and will get somebody else to make those parts if it ever comes to it.

From my end, I had a brief (free), non-legally binding discussion with a lawyer today.

Some summary points are:

When the plaintiff goes around suing everybody, they will have to assign percentage liabilities, so it's not like they will sue you for no related reason at all.

If the parts are for art show only, I just have to say so in writing, in not particularly formal language, and that should be ok.

We did not even discuss any attempt to hide the work via cash only, as I am pretty sure that is not going to work.

The main point if the plaintiff wants to zing me is if I have any intent or knowledge that the part will go on a street bike. It won't help that much to say, "La La La I'm just a dumb machinist making something to print", because the plaintiff will say that I "knew" it was going on a street bike. The "knowledge" and "fit for purpose" part seems to be more important than if I got the chamfers and surface finish just right.

It is also hard to "waiver" yourself out of responsibility just by saying so. The charge might not stick, but there would still be a lot of drama and finger pointing between me and the "designer" and who's responsibility it was to make sure it was "fit for purpose".

They can do an asset check on me without my knowledge just by using public records, so they will know in advance if I am poor or not.

In terms of getting a "shakedown" settlement offer, the lawyer person wasn't super clear on that. She said that you don't necessarily need a lawyer to flash your set of documents showing that you thought it was just for art work instead of a street bike. You can also just say "no" to the shakedown offer. (She didn't say what would be the likely outcome of that except that usually one needs a good reason to attempt a shakedown anyway.)

Making cosmetic parts for the street bike should be ok.

It is possible, and very important NOT TO, accidentally alter or unwind your earlier contract. For example, I make parts for the art show, then the designer wants to put them on the actual street bike. If I accept, I automatically undo my earlier disclaimer that it was art only and can't use my drawing with the "art only" disclaimer as proof.

In short, there is not that much protection for me if I work on actual street bike parts, aside from liability insurance and a lot more legal setup, so I am just not going to make those parts.

My memory of this conversation is rapidly fading, so if anybody has any questions, better ask them now.

flylo
06-18-2013, 07:17 AM
Am I the only one here that would never make a part knowing it may fail? You can have the buyer sign anything you want but when he's killed it's family who will sue you. Don't make any part fot a bike even a show bike that isn't safe. Why on Gods green earth would you even think of doing this & check with lawyers beforehand knowing it's going to fail. Make it safe & correct or don't make it at all & if you've already done it cut the bike up or remove & destroy the parts as soon as the show ends.

vincemulhollon
06-18-2013, 07:30 AM
Am I the only one here that would never make a part knowing it may fail?

That means you can't make a part unless you've got at least a P.E. certification. Or at the very least the knowledge behind a mech eng degree. And, of course, you can't make any mistakes. And you need a degree in EE, ChemEng, maybe others...

I don't make stuff for other people so I don't care, but my other coping mechanism is massively overspecifying / overbuilding. I have a wood picnic table with about 8 bolts under the partial shear load to hold two people (It's geometrically complex...), and I had some 1/4 inch bolts laying around which are probably good in shear to maybe 200 pounds. So I'm good to an 800 pound static force which would require a load around 1600 pounds, at least WRT shear loads on the bolts, assuming I assembled it correctly, which I did. A "real engineer" would probably redesign to put the bolts in tension (they're about twice as strong that way) and would figure a way to use cheap little 6-32 bolts or something to save $1.50 per table on millions of tables so the company execs could buy yet another new Porsche with their bonus money. I on the other hand don't care and use whats laying around the shop which means I "wasted" $1.50. Oh well.

flylo
06-18-2013, 08:31 AM
I think you missed my point. The 1st post states the parts are questionable. My point is don't make them KNOWING they will fail. Instead of spending the time with a lawyer to fiqure out what to do when they fail just don't build it or build it right.

tekfab
06-18-2013, 10:12 AM
Isn't suing somebody a national pastime in the USA ? I though you all met in a bar and discussed it " Hey Brad how's going ? who are you suing this week ? " that sort of thing.

Mike Young (Full address available for those wishing to sue ) :-D

Evan
06-18-2013, 02:20 PM
but my other coping mechanism is massively overspecifying / overbuilding.

That is my method as well. Such as, when I built a flight of stairs for my back deck I designed it to easily hold two people on every step at once with 100% safety margin above that.

dfw5914
06-18-2013, 03:35 PM
Isn't suing somebody a national pastime in the USA ? I though you all met in a bar and discussed it " Hey Brad how's going ? who are you suing this week ? " that sort of thing.

Mike Young (Full address available for those wishing to sue ) :-DNot a national pastime, but there is a sort of sub-culture that regards lawsuits as a legitimate career and/or retirement plan. :mad:

sansbury
06-18-2013, 03:52 PM
I wouldn't expect him to know squat about design and neither would a court. That is the job of a mechanical engineer, not Joe. He may know something about how to use the part, maybe even correctly but that also isn't a sure thing.

And even the mechanical engineer who works on vacuum systems may not know squat about motorcycle suspensions. Point is, this is a game of "how likely is the jury to believe your story?" If the part buyer is a motorcycle professional you have more room to argue that Mr. Machinist didn't need to second-guess the specs and understood that a machinist simply made parts to print.


I think you missed my point. The 1st post states the parts are questionable. My point is don't make them KNOWING they will fail. Instead of spending the time with a lawyer to fiqure out what to do when they fail just don't build it or build it right.

There's some truth in this but it's like making parts for an airplane that's going to sit on static display vs. one that's going to (attempt to) fly.

Alistair Hosie
06-18-2013, 04:00 PM
People are much more letigious these days just look at the advertising lawyers put out.It seems such a shame that you seemed to try to help someone and got stung.I have a good one,
just look what happened to me.
I got a quote for a kitchen work not a fitted kitchen just work on the kitchen.The architect supposedly working for me asks for money to pay the builder up front I say wait I want a proper bill in writing prior to comencement of the work so that I know where I stand.The architect agrees saying we would never do work any other way and sends me a bill for £1500 this is 30 years ago I tell him to go ahead and instruct the builders to start work the did so and when finished he telephoned me in an irate state telling me he made a mistake and I would need to pay £5000 instead of £1500 I tell him thinking I was in the clear to go take a run and jump.Then I get taken to court and despite the builders not showing me a bill I had authorized for £5000 I lost and had to pay an extra £3.500 as the architect told the court he had instructed the builderts to go ahead for £5000 and as I admitted he was acting as my agent I had to pay the builder. I told my (next door neigbour) lawyer to claim the architect as this was what I was advised to do she let it become time barred.So not wanting to sue my neighbour I let it go I must admit I was younger then and would have sued her had it been now.(Sad but true )naive or what. Alistair

sansbury
06-18-2013, 04:06 PM
I'm back to provide an update and some closure.
<SNIP>
When the plaintiff goes around suing everybody, they will have to assign percentage liabilities, so it's not like they will sue you for no related reason at all.
<SNIP>
In terms of getting a "shakedown" settlement offer, the lawyer person wasn't super clear on that. She said that you don't necessarily need a lawyer to flash your set of documents showing that you thought it was just for art work instead of a street bike. You can also just say "no" to the shakedown offer. (She didn't say what would be the likely outcome of that except that usually one needs a good reason to attempt a shakedown anyway.)
<SNIP>
It is possible, and very important NOT TO, accidentally alter or unwind your earlier contract. For example, I make parts for the art show, then the designer wants to put them on the actual street bike. If I accept, I automatically undo my earlier disclaimer that it was art only and can't use my drawing with the "art only" disclaimer as proof.


Thanks for sharing that.

My experience with commercial litigation as both plaintiff and defendant is that the system usually ends up with something of a muddle that leaves both sides somewhat unsatisfied. Virtually everything gets settled before trial, and I've taken settlements for 2/3 of what I was entitled to with damn good cases of customers being complete jerks. Never know what a jury will come back with. There are horror stories of people getting million-dollar judgments against them for people hitting themselves in the head with a hammer because it didn't have a label saying "CAUTION: Do not hit self in head with hammer!" If you want to contemplate low-probability outcomes, you might as well spend all your time worrying about pancreatic cancer or getting struck by lightning.

None of this is to defend the current system, in particular the way that the bar associations have rigged the system to keep access to legal services as expensive as possible. That's changing though, and most lawyers are getting squeezed hard these days and law school enrollment is dropping so fast that law schools are starting to worry about going out of business.

Oh, and last thing, my experience with lawyers is that you have to think of them as dumb tools. They may know law and have a license to charge you for that, but odds are that they know little or nothing about what you do, and even in the area of law, chances are they only know one or two areas well. A guy who's good at commercial litigation may be no good at corporate structures and general commercial matters. Don't ask me how I know!

lazlo
06-18-2013, 07:44 PM
LLC gives you no protection, it just makes it harder for someone to collect from you.
It will cost you $25,000 to defend against a lawsuit using a lawyer so you get sued knowing that they will get $5,000 out of you to just go away.

Isn't that a good reason to just incorporate? Incorporating completely separates your personal assets from the corporation's assets, does it not?

sansbury
06-18-2013, 08:26 PM
Isn't that a good reason to just incorporate? Incorporating completely separates your personal assets from the corporation's assets, does it not?

My understanding is that a single-member LLC and and an S-corporation with one shareholder are going to be viewed identically if push comes to shove. For that matter, even if there are multiple members/shareholders, it is possible to "pierce the corporate veil" in certain circumstances, namely including cases where the member/shareholder can be shown to be personally negligent or guilty of overt fraud. You also need to behave like a business, so if you just have an LLC and the machines in your garage and the only thing that ever happens is you occasionally book a few thousand $ of income from the business, the courts are more likely to regard you as a sole proprietorship.

As for the 25k figure jep24601 quotes, I think that really depends. Assuming $250/hr (which will pay for a pretty good firm/lawyer), that's 100 hours of work. From experience, that pays for a lot of work, *IF* your attorney knows the area of law you're working in. I've had cases that involved dozens of conferences, memos, a court appearance, etc. done for less than that.

Keep in mind that there's two sides to the game in this. If the plaintiff's attorney offers a settlement for $5k, then he's going to get about $1800, which is only ~7 hours of his time. Any more than that and he's starting to fall behind. If it takes your lawyer 3 hours to respond then it's going to take the other guy's lawyer just as much (roughly speaking). Doesn't take much of that before the cost of suing exceeds the payoff. As an aside, this only applies to contingency stuff. If the plaintiff is wealthy enough to pay by the hour, then all bets are off. I've had to deal once with a guy who could afford to be stupid with his money. That was a PITA. Moral of the story is be careful with rich clients and don't make anything except lawn ornaments :D

Enfield
06-18-2013, 08:54 PM
If you do honest work you wont be sued, provided you live in New Zealand.


(See http://www.acc.co.nz/about-acc/overview-of-acc/introduction-to-acc/index.htm)


Yep - good here isn't it ;)

The Artful Bodger
06-18-2013, 08:59 PM
Yep - good here isn't it ;)

Not so good for lawyers!;)

flylo
06-18-2013, 10:03 PM
I'm no lawyer but a Sub S or LLC can offer some protection if done properly & the bookeeping kept up. It creates a seperate entity. But if your the president of the corp or not & knowinly make dangerous or substandard parts I think you could be sued individulally. This is only what I would do. Start a corp, if you do business on your home property make a lease from you to the corp. Any equipment or money you have invested make & record a mortage from the corp to you & record it at the courthouse. If someone sues the corp you have a 1st mortage or note ahead of anyone else. So if they force the corp into bankruptsy you get paid first & nothing left for them. As far as making parts I would require a print & make it to that spec & not know what it goes to. This is just my ideas, not advise for anyone else.

lazlo
06-18-2013, 10:09 PM
Moral of the story is be careful with rich clients and don't make anything except lawn ornaments :D

Classic! :)

beanbag
06-19-2013, 02:30 AM
As far as making parts I would require a print & make it to that spec & not know what it goes to. This is just my ideas, not advise for anyone else.

That lawyer-like person said that playing dumb like this doesn't work well.

flylo
06-19-2013, 06:11 AM
The point was have a print & make sure it's made to thr specs on the print. I know several small shop that make the same part on a regular basis that may or may not know kind of what its for but not exactly what it fits or what the exact applcation is. I'm not saying play dumb as in your case you know exactly what the parts were for. But as a machinist you only need to know by the print what to machine, not what it is. Again this is only what I'd do.

GEP
06-19-2013, 07:15 AM
One of the things i recommend you check on if there is a statued of limitations in the law of your state in the machining field or parts field. If there is you may be ok and wont have any worry. Like car makers they don't get sued for every part that breaks. You may find the law on line, here in michigan its called michigan compiled law and can be accessed on line. You can also find example cases witch will become case law after a judgment is entered.

Evan
06-19-2013, 02:39 PM
I told my (next door neigbour) lawyer to claim the architect as this was what I was advised to do she let it become time barred.So not wanting to sue my neighbour I let it go I must admit I was younger then and would have sued her had it been now.(Sad but true )naive or what.

It is nearly impossible to sue a lawyer. The first and main obstacle is to find another lawyer to take the case. Few if any will do it as it is bad for business. Lawyers refer clients to each other regularly for work in areas they don't handle. Want your referrals to vanish? Sue another lawyer.

edit: It can be done but usually only in very big cases involving very large sums.

Evan
06-19-2013, 02:45 PM
You can also find example cases witch will become case law after a judgment is entered.

Case law is the most important part of law. Regardless of what the statutes read it's the case law that matters. Few judges are likely to overturn previous decisions because it will usually mean an appeal and they stand a good chance of being overturned as well.

krutch
06-20-2013, 03:38 PM
Just my opinion, (and I have no legal training) but with the condition of todays courts, (not following the laws just making them up or ignoring as they need them) anything you do for protection can be gotten around by slick lawyers and willing judges.
The best you could do is write a detailed paper and have it registered with a local legal facility (county clerk, etc.) explaining any parts you made are NOT for street use. Won't save ya any suits but might be of some help to you.