Brett Smith, Former Marine, Sues Irvine Harley Dealer for Parlaying PTSD into $17k Bike Sale
ABC News

Brett Smith, Former Marine, Sues Irvine Harley Dealer for Parlaying PTSD into $17k Bike Sale

A former Camp Pendleton Marine claims Irvine's Harley-Davidson dealership took advantage of his post-traumatic stress disorder to coerce him into buying a $17,000 motorcycle he can't afford.

But 25-year-old Brett Smith can obviously afford a lawyer as he has hired a San Diego personal injury lawyer to sue Orange County Harley-Davidson.

As ABC News has reported, here is what the lawyer and client claim: Smith, who after serving with special forces in Afghanistan left the Marines and in 2010, began suffering daily panic attacks, nightmares and other issues that were diagnosed as PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.

After five days of sleeplessness in April, the married and unemployed man began hallucinating, being struck by the need to buy a Harley for some reason. He wound up at the Irvine dealership, where he was so jittery the salesman asked if he was OK, giving the customer water so he could take three Xanax.

Smith explained he had severe PTSD and a compulsion to ride a hog from the dealership to Georgia, even though he had no money nor a motorcycle license. He would later sign a loan agreement for nearly $17,000, with the salesman pointing out a long ride to Georgia might ease his PTSD symptoms.

But instead of taking off across country, he rode the bike home, got some shut eye and then next day, with a backpack stuffed full of clothes, fruit and a PlayStation, took off for the Peach State. About 40 miles into the ride, he realized he didn't have any money and returned home. The former Marine then checked himself into a psychiatric facility for 10 days.

"That day is very much a dream-like recollection to him," Daniel Gilleon, Smith's attorney, told ABC. "He wasn't completely aware of what he was doing."

The suit, filed Oct. 30, seeks to nullify the loan agreement, in what may be the first unfair business practices claim based on someone with PTSD allegedly being taken advantage of.

"Harley-Davidson touts itself as an all-American, patriotic company, but patriotic is as patriotic does," Gilleon says in the report. "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."

A call to the dealer this morning has not yet been returned, but this post will be updated should a comment come.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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