Motion Filed to Consolidate Yamaha Rhino Lawsuits

A motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize Yamaha Rhino lawsuits that have been filed in various federal courts for pretrial litigation. The product liability lawsuits all allege that design defects in the side-by-side ATV caused the vehicle to rollover, resulting in serious and debilitating injuries for riders.

Several plaintiffs who have pending cases are requesting that 57 Rhino ATV lawsuits be transferred from 33 different U.S. District Courts to one court where they will be coordinated as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.

The Yamaha Rhino, which was first introduced in 2003 by Yamaha Motor Corp., is a side by side four wheel all-terrain vehicle (ATV), which is a cross between smaller recreational off-road vehicles and larger utility vehicles.

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Hundreds of riders throughout the United States have suffered severe fractures, permanent injuries or death when their arms, legs or other parts of their body were crushed under the weight of the ATV when the Rhino rolled over in an accident.

The Yamaha lawsuits allege that the Rhino was negligently designed with a narrow wheel base, high center of gravity, small turning radius and powerful engine, which combine to make the vehicle inherently unstable.

An MDL is a federal procedure which allows multiple cases with common underlying facts to be consolidated for pretrial litigation in a manner similar to how a Yamaha Rhino class action lawsuit would be managed. However, throughout the litigation the cases remain individual claims, and if the litigation does not settle or otherwise resolve during pretrial proceedings, the cases are returned to the original jurisdiction where they were filed for a jury trial.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will consider the Motion filed by some of the plaintiffs to form a Yamaha Rhino ATV Products Liability MDL at a hearing scheduled for January 29, 2009 at the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Fort Myers, Florida.

The MDL Panel is able to select one jurisdiction to manage complex litigation involving multiple claims that share common issues of fact. A transfer is often granted in cases where it will help avoid duplicative discovery, eliminate inconsistent rulings, conserve the resources of the parties and the court, and serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses .

Although Yamaha has not confirmed how many cases have been filed by injured riders, estimates suggest that over 200 Yamaha Rhino ATV lawsuits currently pending in various state courts and federal courts throughout the country.

According to the Hearing Notice for the MDL Panel, there are currently 5 Rhino lawsuits pending in the Eastern District of Kentucky and Eastern District of Texas; 4 pending in the District of Arizona and Middle District of Tennessee ; 3 pending in the Northern District of Alabama ; 2 pending in the Central District of California, District of Maryland, Southern District of Mississippi , Eastern District of Missouri, District of Nevada, Southern District of New York, Northern District of Ohio; and 1 case each pending in the Southern District of Alabama, Eastern District of Arkansas, District of Colorado, Southern District of Florida, Northern District of Georgia, Eastern District of Louisiana, Western District of Louisiana, Western District of Michigan, Northern District of Mississippi, Western District of Missouri, District of Montana, District of Nebraska, Eastern District of Oklahoma, Northern District of Oklahoma, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, District of South Carolina, Eastern District of Tennessee, Western District of Tennessee, Northern District of Texas, Southern District of Texas, Eastern District of Washington and Western District of Washington.


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