Yamaha takes on the tort bar—and wins. - Yamaha Rhino Forums - Yamaha UTV Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Yamaha takes on the tort bar—and wins.

All-Terrain Victories

We told you last week about Boeing's big tort victory, and this week Yamaha won another court verdict in defense of its all-terrain vehicles. Maybe resistance to the plaintiffs bar isn't futile.

In 2003 Yamaha introduced a new category of ATV known as Rhino to the U.S. market. Unlike single-passenger ATVs, the Rhino "side by side" allows for two passengers to sit next to each other. The Rhino became an instant hit with farmers, hunters and ATV enthusiasts, and rivals rushed to offer their own versions.

In 2007, Yamaha made several minor modifications—including half-doors and more passenger hand-holds—to increase the Rhino's safety. The plaintiffs bar pounced, citing the modifications as evidence that the product hadn't been safe. Spearheaded by California firm Lieff Cabraser, hundreds of lawsuits rolled in, many generated via the Internet. The lawyers also deluged the Consumer Product Safety Commission with complaints, hoping the federal agency would aid their suits by ordering a Rhino recall.

Yamaha avoided that by working with the agency to make other modest safety changes. As for the lawsuits, it did something unusual: It chose to fight. This no doubt surprised the plaintiffs bar, whose strategy is to swamp a company with so many lawsuits that it agrees to settle.

Yet Yamaha had a strong case. Like any ATV, the Rhino comes with guidelines for proper use. Riders are told to wear helmets, seatbelts and safety gear, and not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is recommended only for licensed drivers, only for two people, and for off-road use.

Yamaha sought and obtained the results of 63 CPSC investigations into Rhino-related injuries or fatalities, and the findings were illuminating. Some 75% involved an unbelted rider; 84% an unhelmeted rider; 52% high speeds and sharp turns; and 29% drugs or alcohol. About a third involved more than two riders, and a third drivers under the age of 16. Yamaha estimated that drivers had engaged in an average of 3.5 actions it had warned against for each incident.

The first of 175 consolidated California cases went to trial last summer, a suit the judge called a "bellwether." The plaintiffs, seeking millions in compensatory and punitive damages, were allowed to pursue every claim—for product defects, insufficient warnings, negligence, and so on. Yamaha contended the defendant had caused his leg injury by aggressive and impaired driving, and by failing to wear a seat belt. The jury found 12-0 for Yamaha.

Yamaha has since won four more major cases, and it is appealing its single defeat in a smaller 2009 case. Those four include a victory this week in Ohio, in what the judge called the largest civil trial in Warren County's history. Plaintiffs attorneys have begun to withdraw many of their suits.

The cost of this litigation—to Yamaha, the courts, regulatory agencies and Rhino consumers—is still enormous. Yet Yamaha also understood that settling would only invite more lawsuits. In the absence of tort reform, a belief in one's products is a company's best defense, and more companies would benefit from fighting back.

now yamaha.. build something that will compete with a 50" wide rzr...
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 12:53 PM
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Killer awesome.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-11-2011, 07:01 PM
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hopefully after losing a few more, the lawyers will stop taking on cases they can't possibly win.....but there's always that tool Larry H Parker.....

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and some quads and a KTM
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:39 PM
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-20-2011, 05:00 PM
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I am fairly new to ATV's/UTV's my first was an 08 Yamaha Grizzly 450, in the year I owned it I rolled it twice, never thought once of suing Yamaha as it wasn't their fault I was being stupid in driving there wasn't anything wrong with the ATV just the idiot driving it (myself). Now I have a 2011 Yamaha Rhino 700, which I've had for 10 months and haven't seen anything on it that would cause it to be dangerous other than not operating it correctly. I use my Rhino mainly for utility purposes around the property so its rarely going faster than 10MPH and at that speed if If flip it over I'm really doing something stupid. Same goes with any other speed really, if you think about it; if you cannot properly control the vehicle that's your own fault its not the equipment's fault that you chose to drive it as fast as it can go and to not properly operate the vehicle.

I am glad that Yamaha is fighting even if it does mean a bit higher prices on a Yamaha vehicle which you know is trickling down. The rhino is my 2nd Yamaha and a great UTV that I look forward to many years of great trouble free use out of it.

I only wish that people would stop being so stupid and trying to sue a perfectly good company because of their stupidity that has nothing to do with the vehicle.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 10:54 AM
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This case is one of the many frivolous cases that shhow we need some serious Tort reform in this country. The Lawyers are abusing people and Companys left and right. Nobody wants to accept responsibility for there actions and wants to blame some one or something else for there stupidity.

2nd place is the first loser!!

Were a whole lot faster than you think you are.
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