Yamaha Must Pay $3.3M for Selling Dangerous Rhino
Rhino-maker Yamaha Motor Corporation must pay $3.3 million for an unsafe 660 UTV vehicle that overturned and crushed its driver.
Jackie McMahon, of Pensacola, Fla., was driving the four-wheeler on a family farm in Alabama when she tried to make a right turn and the vehicle overturned on top of her, causing serious injuries to her limbs.
She first filed suit in 2010, arguing unsuccessfully that the product was defectively designed. After losing the case she filed an appeal, and an appeals court sent it back to go to trial a second time.
This time, her lawyers argued that Yamaha should have recalled the vehicle because of all the complaints of it turning over even when drivers were going slowly on flat terrain.
“Our focus was that the company did wrong, not that the product was defective,” said McMahon’s attorney Fred Levin.
Hundreds of drivers have sued Yamaha over the Rhino since it came on the market in 2003. In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said 70 deaths were reported in Rhino crashes.
Levin argued that Yamaha put profits over people by continuing to sell the Rhino despite all the complaints.
McMahon’s $3.3 million verdict is the largest so far of the Yamaha Rhino lawsuits and included $2 million in punitive damages for Yamaha’s reckless conduct in keeping the vehicle on the market.