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Beijing man sues Bentley maker
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-25 00:41

A Beijing man is suing one of Britain's most famous car makers after discovering a potentially fatal flaw in the car.

Guo Yong, 47, sued after a steering tension link allegedly fell off in his 4.68 million yuan (US$565,000) Bentley.

Guo bought the Bentley in August 2002. Last March, with about 4,100 kilometres on the odometer, the car went out of control.

Bentley mechanics said that on the day the steering tension link had fallen, they replaced it.

"But the replaced tension link could very possibly fall off again without any further action," Guo claims in his lawsuit.

A dropping tension link is serious business, said Cai Shifang, a professor at the Tsinghua University's Vehicle Institute. If the link falls off at the wrong time, it could result in a serious traffic accident. Not only that, it is inconceivable to think of a link dropping within the normal life-span of the car.

Cai said that the problem is either a manufacturing or structural flaw.

Guo said he appealed to the Beijing Bentley Group, looking for a guarantee that the link would not fall off again.

"But the English company ignored my request and only sent a letter saying they are sorry the problem occurred after only a few thousand kilometres," Guo said.

So Guo sued.

The lawsuit is based on the Law on the Product Quality, said Guo's lawyer Yang Younan.

Guo is looking for Bentley to refund his 4.68 million yuan (US$565,000) and pay 482,000 yuan (US$58,200) in compensation.

But, in another twist, the court hearing was adjourned Monday after the defendant questioned the standing of the chief presiding judge.

The Beijing Bentley Group said chief judge Li Shuxin of the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court and clerk Jin Hong published stories on some Beijing-based newspapers including the China Vehicle Daily that obviously side with Guo.

After the legal challenge, the hearing was delayed.

After an hour-long private session with three judges, including Li, a decision was postponed for three days.

The challenge has no legal precedent.

According to the Civil Procedural Law of 1991, litigants have the right to apply for new judges in the event of a connection between the judge and one of the parties in the lawsuit.

Sources with the Beijing Bentley Group declined to make any comment Monday.

Another defendant, the English Bentley Motors Limited Company, was not represented Monday.

Beijing Bentley tried to settle the case out of court, said Guo, and offered free services until 2007 or 80,000 kilometres.

According to Bentley's advertisement in China, all of the Bentley cars are produced by highly skilled craftsmen in its Crewe Factory in England.

Bentley is the only vehicle brand that combines top luxury with excellent technical performance, the advertisement in Chinese said.

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