Yamaha Rhino Leg Fracture Lawsuit Results in Defense Verdict
A California jury has returned a defense verdict in a Yamaha Rhino lawsuit over a leg fracture suffered by a rider when the four-wheel all-terrain vehicle rolled over. The jury found that Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. was not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The Yamaha Rhino leg fracture lawsuit was filed by Richard Holt, alleging that design flaws with his 2005 Rhino 660 made it prone to rollover, contributing to an ATV accident in which Holt suffered two fractured bones in his leg.
Following trial, the Orange County Superior Court jury sided with the ATV maker, finding that the Rhino design was not to blame for the rollover. Holt’s case was the third Yamaha Rhino lawsuit to go to trial involving similar allegations, with the plaintiff prevailing in only one of the cases so far.
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In May, a Georgia jury awarded Roger and Glenda McTaggert $317,000 in a Yamaha Rhino rollover accident lawsuit in which Roger’s left leg was crushed under the vehicle. In August 2009, a Texas jury issued a defense verdict in a Yamaha Rhino wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a 13 year old boy, who was operating a modified version of the off-road vehicle without a seatbelt or helmet.
There are several hundred lawsuits over Yamaha Rhino accidents that resulted in leg fractures and other serious injuries pending throughout the country, with 170 more claims pending in California state court alone.
All federal lawsuits involving Yamaha Rhino accidents are currently centralized for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, before Judge Jennifer B. Coffman in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The first Yamaha Rhino trials in the MDL, which are known as “bellwether” cases because they are used to gauge how jurors will respond to evidence that will be presented throughout the litigation, were scheduled to begin in October 2010. However, according to recent court documents, the first trial has been pushed back to January 2011.
Plaintiffs in the cases claim that design problems with the Yamaha Rhino make the vehicle prone to rollover due to the combination of a small wheel base, narrow turning radius, high center of gravity and powerful engine. They also claim that the ATV, which has been found to rollover on flat surfaces at speeds as low as 13 miles per hour, lacked safety features which would reduce the risk of injury in a rollover accident.
In 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) determined that the Yamaha Rhino could roll over on level terrain at slow speeds and a Yamaha Rhino recall was issued so that the manufacturer could make safety improvements to vehicles that had been sold. Problems with the Yamaha Rhino and the high number of accidents involved with the vehicle sparked the CPSC to propose new safety rules for recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).
In a press release this week, Yamaha claimed that the California verdict shows that the Rhino is safe. However, it has been reported that the manufacturer has reached Yamaha Rhino settlements in some product liability lawsuits filed by riders of the ATV.
IndustryProJuly 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm
It's good to see common sense is prevailing in most of these cases. With so many people jumping on the "let's sue Yamaha" bandwagon, it's good to see that actual facts are being considered in these cases and people are being held accountable for their actions. It's about time.
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