Editorial: A Hard 20 Months

Paul Carruthers | May 1, 2012

I imagine it will only be a matter of time before you’ll be seeing Corbin seat commercials during broadcasts of the NBA playoffs, PGA golf and the NHL hockey playoffs after a San Francisco man named the seat company in a lawsuit, along with BMW North America, in which he claims the “ridge-like” seat gave him a severe case of priapism. For those of you who don’t know what priapism is… well, it’s an erection. And not just any erection. Like a high schooler struggling to get through “War And Peace,” this one is both long and hard. In fact, plaintiff Henry Wolf alleges that this case of priapism started 20 months ago and it has yet to subside.

Twenty months – 2-0! Think of what you’ve done in the past 20 months that didn’t necessarily involve needing priapism of any sort. In fact, think of what you’ve done in the last 20 months where priapism would flat out prove to be uncomfortable. Running on the treadmill at the gym comes to mind. Mountain biking with your buddies. Lunch with a co-worker. And I’m not even talking severe priapism, though it’s hard to determine what would actually make it severe. Guess it’s probably the duration more than anything. To most of us, 20 months of priapism probably accounts for eighth and ninth grade.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Seems like only yesterday that a four-hour erection was a big enough deal to warrant a warning on the Viagra commercials. Not sure there’s a warning label big enough for this one, though I do recall Yamaha personal watercraft ended up featuring rather wordy labeling after they were sued by a woman who… well, let’s just say she got a little too up close and personal with her watercraft, and was injured as a result.

Believe it or not, the Corbin/BMW suit was filed in California Superior Court in San Francisco last week and reported on by USA Today in their weekend edition after they got word on the suit from the Courthouse News Service.

According to the Courthouse News Service, the suit reads as follows:

“Plaintiff was riding his 1993 BMW motorcycle equipped with a Corbin-Pacific seat. The ride lasted approximately two hours each way to plaintiff’s destination, after which plaintiff developed a severe case of priapism [a persistent, lasting erection]. Plaintiff alleges that this condition was caused by the ridge-like seat on his motorcycle, negligently designed, manufactured and/or installed by defendants.”

No word on the destination, or what he did there. Or whether or not the barstool at the Spearmint Rhino was Corbin equipped.

This was a story that needed some research. I opted to start at the Corbin website where it reveals it currently sells 33 seats for most BMWs with manufacture dates from 1974 to current year models. None that I could find boast of a “ridge-like” design in the product description, though this may change if there’s a marketing man worth his salary up there at Corbin’s HQ in Hollister.

A visual inspection of some of the seats on the website, however, do show what could be interpreted to be a “ridge-like” design, but this Wolf fella would have to have some long arms as it appears the ridge would be the separation between the passenger portion and the rider portion of the seat. Some of the seats on the site, however, offer the added bonus of heat… “Just integrate the wiring pigtail with your BMW harness and enjoy the warmth,” the website describes of a few of its BMW seats.

No word on whether Wolf had the added bonus of a heated, “ridge-like” design.

The next part of the suit is somewhat confusing.

“Plaintiff now suffers from priapism [that word again], and has been experiencing continuing problems since his motorcycle ride. He is now unable to engage in sexual activity [huh?], which is causing him substantial emotional and mental anguish. Plaintiff is distraught and distressed because of this. Defendants, and each of them, are liable to plaintiff due [to] their negligent design, manufacture and/or installation of the seat on plaintiff’s motorcycle.”

Wolf is hoping his lawyer, Vernon Bradley, can get him compensated by BMW and Corbin for lost wages, medical expenses, emotional distress and “general damage.”

Although I feel for Wolf and his 20-month bout with priapism, I’m skeptical that the seat caused the problem. Okay, I’m more than skeptical. I’m hopeful that the judge throws the case out and tells Wolf he doesn’t have a third leg to stand on.

Two words for ya, Mr. Wolf: Harley Softtail.




Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.