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Yamaha Faces Third West Virginia Rhino Lawsuit

May 19, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

Another Yamaha Rhino rollover accident has sparked a third lawsuit in West Virginia.  The complaint was filed by the father of a young girl who was seriously injured when the Yamaha Rhino she was riding in flipped.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) opened an investigation into the Rhino last year.  As a result of that probe, in March Yamaha announced a recall of all Rhino 450, 660 and 700 models distributed since fall of 2003. Yamaha offered to  repair affected Rhinos free of charge. These repairs include the installation of a spacer on the rear wheels, as well as the removal of the rear anti-sway bar to help reduce the chance of rollover and improve vehicle handling.

Brian Shears' lawsuit claims his daughter was seriously injured in March 2006 because of the Yamaha Rhino's faulty design and lack of safety features, such as doors.  The lawsuit claims Shears' daughter suffered emotional injuries, physical impairment, disfigurement, pain, discomfort, disability and anxiety. She also lost wages, according to the complaint.  Her father incurred significant medical expenses.

The lawsuit points out that Yamaha knew the Rhino was dangerous, as evidenced by a notice the company issued in  September 2006.  It warned the vehicle could roll over when driven aggressively or on sloping terrain. It also cautioned owners that in the event of a rollover, they should not stick their arms and legs outside the vehicle, according to the complaint.  

Then in 2007, Yamaha issued another notification that some Rhino owners had experienced rollover accidents even on flat surfaces, at slow rates of speed.  At that time, the company offered to make  free modifications on the Rhino, including the addition of handholds and doors.  But Shears' lawsuit alleges that not all Rhino owners received that notification.

Shears' lawsuit is seeking unspecified compensatory, special and punitive damages, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.


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