Yamaha Rhino Lawsuit Trial Dates Scheduled in Federal MDL

U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman, who is presiding over the consolidated federal Yamaha Rhino lawsuits in the Western District of Kentucky, has scheduled trial dates for “bellwether” cases in the multidistrict litigation (MDL), with the five trial dates set between October 2010 and January 2011.

About 500 product liability lawsuits over problems with the Yamaha Rhino ATV have been filed in various state and federal courts throughout the country. All of the federal cases against Yamaha have been centralized for pretrial litigation before Judge Coffman.

As part of the case management, several groups of cases were selected for early trials in the MDL. Known as “bellwether” trials, these cases are designed to help gauge how jurors will respond to evidence presented in the litigation. The trend of the juries in the cases could help pave the way for a Yamaha Rhino settlement.

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The Yamaha Rhino litigation involves allegations that the four-wheel off-road vehicles were defectively designed, giving them a propensity to rollover, even when operated at slow speeds on flat surfaces. The Yamaha Rhino problems have been linked to hundreds of ATV rollover accidents, resulting in catastrophic and sometimes fatal injuries for riders.

According to Orders issued earlier this month, a Yamaha Rhino trial has been scheduled to begin in the MDL on October 18, 2010, involving a case brought by Donna Adorno. This case will be followed in fairly rapid succession by four more test cases, which are scheduled to begin on November 15, November 29, December 13 and January 10, 2011.

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

In August, a Texas state court jury found that Yamaha was not liable for the death of a 13 year-old boy in a Yamaha Rhino wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, the jury decision was based on individual circumstances of that accidents, including the fact that the teenage boy was driving a Rhino that had been modified and the father testified that he was not wearing a helmet when the vehicle flipped, crushing him.


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