A Texas jury has been given the task the of determining whether Yamaha Motor Co. is responsible for damages caused by their allegedly defective Rhino ATV. The jury’s decision will have monumental ramification that will echo throughout the nation and set a precedent that may be cited in future similar cases.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of individuals that have been injured while using the Yamaha Rhino ATV. The lawsuits claim that the Yamaha Rhino’s design is flawed and makes the Rhino more susceptible to roll-over accidents than other similar vehicles.
The landmark trial which, began last week, involves the death of a 13-year-old boy, Forest “Eddie” Ray, who was tragically while operating a Yamaha Rhino ATV.
The lawsuit alleges that Yamaha chose to skimp on the cost of producing the vehicle and these money saving choice resulted in a defective and dangerous product being sold to the public. Specifically the lawsuit claims that Yamaha failed to equip the Rhino with a rear differential that would have made the vehicle much safer.
The plaintiffs argue that the presence of a rear differential would have prevented the ATV from rolling over when Ray made a turn from grass onto a paved road; however, according to testimony of a Yamaha engineer the Rhino is designed be an “exclusively off-road vehicle.”
The defense also argues that the 13-year-old was left unsupervised and was not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt at the time the accident occurred. Yamaha claims that the Rhino is intended for use only by drivers 16 and older and that drivers and occupants are always encouraged to wear safety belts and protective gear.
Yamaha contends that the Rhino met all safety standards, and in fact had been delayed from the market to ensure that these standards were met.
It will be very interesting to see where the jury comes out on this case. They will undoubtedly be faced with difficult decisions that will take careful deliberation, and hopefully in the end justice will be served.