Yamaha Rhino Rollover Problems Highlighted in CBS News Report

A CBS Evening News investigative report aired Tuesday night, delving into the problems with Yamaha Rhino rollovers, which have resulted in hundreds of death and injury lawsuits. The report highlighted evidence of the Yamaha Rhino dangers, airing footage of the side-by-side ATV rolling over during a simple turn on a flat surface.

The CBS story included information about a 16 year old who lost his hand in a Yamaha Rhino accident, footage of a Yamaha Rhino rolling over at a dealership while being moved from one area to another, and revealed that even the Yamaha executives have rolled the vehicles and suffered injuries from the Yamaha Rhino.

Although representatives from Yamaha declined to be interviewed for the story, the manufacturer released a response to the piece almost immediately, refuting claims that the vehicles are dangerous and suggesting that CBS was used as a tool to malign the company by “plaintiff lawyers.”

Did You Know?

Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

Since it was first introduced in 2003, Yamaha Rhino design problems have been linked to an increased risk of rollover accidents. With a high center of gravity, narrow wheelbase and a powerful engine, the Rhino has been found prone to rollover, even when operated at slow speeds on relatively flat surfaces.

Yamaha claims that the Rhino accidents, which have resulted in at least 59 deaths with only 150,000 vehicles sold, were the result of driver negligence, reckless behavior and failure to use safety features. However, in March 2009, Yamaha agreed to temporarily suspend sales of the vehicles and make free repairs to improve handling and reduce the risk of injury.

CBS News interviewed the new chair of the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission (CPSC), Inez Tenenbaum, who said that the agency has found that the Rhino has “significant problems” and said the agency was still investigating the vehicle, indicating that future regulatory actions are a possibility.

CBS News also revealed that even high-ranking Yamaha executives have suffered injuries after a Rhino rolled over. In 2002, while riding a prototype version of the side-by-side off-road vehicle, Ike Miyachi, the vice president of France, rolled over a Yamaha Rhino and suffered a foot injury. The vehicle was being driven by Keisuke “Casey” Yoshida, president of a U.S. subsidiary of Yamaha. Weeks later at a meeting, Yoshida reportedly questioned whether stability problems would open the company to liability lawsuits.

Yamaha’s response to the CBS News story notes that the vehicle was a prototype that was not released to the public. The response does not say what would have made the prototype Rhino different enough to increase the risk of rolling it over.

Yamaha also disputed the claims of the young man highlighted in the CBS News story, Justin Miller, who alleges that a defective design caused him to lose his hand in a Rhino crash. Miller says he was driving under 15 mph, wearing a helmet and seatbelt, when his Rhino tipped over on level ground. Yamaha says police reports indicate he was traveling more than 20 mph, and they claim that after-market modifications to his Rhino may have changed its center of gravity.

“Yamaha will properly deal with these cases in the courtroom based on all the relevant evidence and a fair opportunity to be heard,” wrote Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A. in a statement released August 4.

There are more than 440 Yamaha Rhino rollover lawsuits pending throughout the United States for riders who suffered severe or fatal injuries. All federal cases have been consolidated in an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, before U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman in the Western District of Kentucky. However, the first trial is expected to be a Texas state court wrongful death lawsuit over the Yamaha Rhino, scheduled to begin this month.

Image Credit: 2008 Yamaha Rhino 700

2 Comments

  • NickyOctober 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    South Africa - I absolutely agree in what you are saying - Goofs can roll anything if you want to - but I would like to state that every person has the right to their safety - I would however like to comment that when sitting in one of these vehicles (especially the older models with no doors) - if you as a dealer own can argue the fact that your limbs stick out way past the rollbars and the bars [Show More]South Africa - I absolutely agree in what you are saying - Goofs can roll anything if you want to - but I would like to state that every person has the right to their safety - I would however like to comment that when sitting in one of these vehicles (especially the older models with no doors) - if you as a dealer own can argue the fact that your limbs stick out way past the rollbars and the bars at the bottom by the door entrances - harneses, boot, gloves and all the other safety gear will not prevent a serious accident should that rollbar land on your foot or your arm etc - whether you have your seat belt on or off you are still at a very high risk of getting injured. I have researched this matter extensively over the past 2 years - I have sat in the vehicle and I would like to mention that in the case of a rollover there is no way that anyone can control their limbs at that very moment of it happening - also depending on the rollover the likelyhood is that the vehicle will roll more than once and if your foot gets trapped under the bar at the bottom the weight of that vehicle will crush the boot along with your lower leg inside it - most boot refered to are like a moto-x type boot which is not all that strong - I have a daughter that has a very serious injury to her right leg and has been unable to walk for the past 2 years (19 years old) - I feel that not all the safety issues have been considered in the case of a rollover (eithe by accident or fooling around) as to the occupants inside it - I think the new doors will help but are not that strong and can still break or pop out under pressure - I mean no offensive these are just my person views as to some of the research that I myself have done.

  • GregAugust 10, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I have been a Yamaha Dealer for over 9 years. We put these units in and out of our building 7 days a week and without incident. YOU CAN DRIVE STUPID AND TURN ANYTHING OVER. Why don' t you "Goofs" in the News Media run a complete story instead of one that "sells advertisement or gets you a rating boost????" Perhaps Yamaha Motor Company as well as all the OEM's should band together and fund a campai[Show More]I have been a Yamaha Dealer for over 9 years. We put these units in and out of our building 7 days a week and without incident. YOU CAN DRIVE STUPID AND TURN ANYTHING OVER. Why don' t you "Goofs" in the News Media run a complete story instead of one that "sells advertisement or gets you a rating boost????" Perhaps Yamaha Motor Company as well as all the OEM's should band together and fund a campaige that involves their products- the countless hours of "Joy" and how this is a sport has become "part of family time." What outrages me the most-is how our Dealer Body sets back and takes all the "Sand Being Kicked in our Faces"- and I for one am Damn Tried of it!!!!!

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories