On Thursday, a Texas jury rejected product liability claims brought by the family of Forest “Eddie” Ray, against Yamaha Motor Corp. USA. Eddie Ray, 13, died in September 2007,while riding one of the company’s Rhino all-terrain vehicles.
One of the major facts that may have contributed to the verdict was testimony from Ray’s father that the child was driving without a helmet.
Yamaha argued that his death was caused by operator error.
The Plaintiff believed their evidence established that the Rhino was defectively designed. Yamaha maintains that the Rhino ATV is a safe and useful off-road vehicle and will continue to vigorously defend the product.
In April, after numerous product liability suits, Yamaha suspended sales of the vehicles and provided free repairs to customers.
On March 31, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for the Yamaha’s Rhino 450 and 660 model vehicles and advised consumers to immediately stop using the ATVs until certain repairs were made.
120,000 Rhino models were subject to the recall throughout the U.S., according to the agency.
The first Rhino trial in federal court is set for June 2010.
The Plaintiff’s lawyer said it best, "[Thursday’s] defense verdict will not deter the prosecution of other pending Yamaha Rhino lawsuits."
Our firm has cases pending the the Multidistrict Litigation in Federal Court and we are continuing to zealously prosecuting these cases as well as other ATV cases such as Polaris and other products that have defective designs contributing to injury and death.