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Jeff Cockran

Jeff Cockran

You know Jesse James as a custom bike builder (WCC), publisher (Payupsucker Publications), television host (Monster Garage), Hollywood celebrity (wife Sandra Bullock), car builder, welder and restaurateur (Cisco Burger), but did you know he’s got some serious “behind-the-scenes” legal trouble?

Contrary to popular opinion I’m not a big Jesse fan even though he did visit the U.S. Troops in Iraq before Obama!  Clearly he has talent and has built some interesting bikes.  However, his chumminess with the Hollywood elite while casting himself off as an everyday bloke working for the blue collar common man as a “glorified welder” is an insightful commentary and somewhat disingenuous as the bad boy C.F.L. industry personality.  These days the whole biker experience (as “media darlings“) has become gimmicky and any day I expect to see a “Chopper Deal or No Deal” game show on TV.

Having had my share of legal issues in this litigation-base society I’m not judging Jesse because I think he’s done a lot for the industry, but it does look like a negative trend or downward spiral…he’s being sued for breach of contract by Keats McFarland & Wilson LLP — his former lawyer for more than $327K in unpaid fees.  And he’s being sued for breach of contract by Michael B. Jones for more than $422K in the failure to deliver a custom 1949 Cadillac. Last year Jesse was in another law suit with the Sheet Metal Workers Union over a trademark infringement when he co-opted their image on popular WCC calendars that were sold in Wal-Mart.  And capping off a year plus of legal fun he was fined $275K by CARB for selling motorcycles with engines not approved by the state.

Sucker Punch Sallys

Sucker Punch Sallys

All of this is adding up to some serious coin and has to be cutting into the Monster Garage residuals!  Most important is the question of “Where is the chopper industry going?” 

We witnessed the sponsorship implosion from Billy Lane’s accident.  Is Jesse on the same collision course?  We have OCC and the Teutels, but they’ve become wealthy growing into grander and more upscale shops while doing corporate built-off’s.  Not to get personal, but even Paul Sr. looks to be sitting around the lounger too much because either his bicep tat’s are starting to droop or Hi-Def TV is not kind to body builders?

What we need is another Indian Larry personality.  Another larger than life ambassador for the industry to make an entrance onto the TV scene and become an inspiration.  Is Jeff Cockran of Sucker Punch Sallys our next ambassador?  I think he’s one to watch…

What do you think?  Is it the slowdown of the economy, or the fad of TV choppers wearing thin, or did the greed of the custom builders over charging customers simply cause the market to crash?

UPDATE: November 12, 2008 – More legal issues with Mr. James and WCC who are being sued by Fortune Fashions over a clothing line which was to be sold thru Wal-Mart.   Jesse pulled the deal, hired a key employee and then decided to sell direct to Wal-Mart anyway.  Legal docs HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of SMWIA and SPS web sites.

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