Trials in Yamaha Rhino Lawsuit MDL Scheduled to Begin June 2010

According to a Case Management Order issued by U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman, who is presiding over the consolidated Yamaha Rhino lawsuit MDL in the Western District of Kentucky, the first trial in the MDL is scheduled to start in June 2010.

The MDL was established by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in February 2009, in response to a growing number of lawsuits over Yamaha Rhino accidents that were filed in different districts throughout the United States.

All of the cases involve similar allegations that problems with the design of the four-wheel side-by-side ATV make it unstable and prone to rollover, even when it is operated on level terrain at low speeds. Plaintiffs have suffered a variety of physical injuries, ranging from severe fractures to head injuries and a number of deaths.

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Yamaha Rhino lawsuits that were added to the MDL on or before May 22, 2009 were designated by Judge Coffman as “Case Group 1.” All non-expert fact discovery in these cases must be completed by February 1, 2010, with all discovery complete by April 1, 2010. The first trial from the Case Group 1 cases is set to begin on June 1, 2010, or as soon thereafter as the Court can set the trial.

Additional groups of lawsuits were designated as “Case Group 2” and “Case Group 3” for those filed between May 22, 2009 and July 31, 2009, and July 31, 2009 and October 31, 2009, respectively. Trial of the first lawsuit from Case Group 2 is set to begin in September 2010 and the first lawsuit from Case Group 3 is set to begin December 2010.

Judge Coffman directed the Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs and Defendants to meet and confer at least 30 days before the deadline for discovery in each Case Group, to discuss selection of one or more cases for the first trial. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties will submit their respective proposals to the Court for consideration.

The Yamaha Rhino was first introduced in 2003. While Yamaha initially settled several of the early rollover lawsuits filed, as the number of claims has grown, they have indicated an intention to defend the cases at trial.


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