Fourth Recent Defense Verdict in Yamaha Rhino Trial

Oct 27, 2010, 16:56 ET from Bowman and Brooke LLP

PHOENIX, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- For the fourth straight time in less than three months, a jury has returned a complete defense verdict in a trial involving the Yamaha Rhino off-road vehicle.  On Friday October 22, 2010, a Montgomery County, Alabama jury returned a 12 – 0 verdict for Yamaha in Jacklyn McMahon and Donald McMahon v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.; Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America; and Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd., Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama, Case No. CV-08-360, Judge Tracey McCooey presiding.  After three weeks of trial, the jury reached its unanimous defense verdict in well under an hour.

Plaintiff Jacklyn McMahon claimed that her 2007 Rhino 660 Special Edition offroad vehicle caused her July 26, 2007 crash in which she overturned her vehicle onto its side while she attempted to make a right turn.  Ms. McMahon, then age 47, sustained injuries to her arms and left leg. The plaintiff claimed that the Rhino lacked adequate stability and occupant crash protection and sought recovery of $374,000 in medical expenses, plus non-economic and punitive damages.  Yamaha defended its design and contended that the plaintiff caused her crash and injuries by driving aggressively and by failing to wear a seat belt and appropriate riding gear.

Both sides called expert witnesses on kinematics and vehicle handling, stability and crashworthiness.  Plaintiffs' witnesses included design engineer Michael Burleson from Tyler, Texas (via videotaped deposition testimony); handling and stability engineer Micky Gilbert from Wheat Ridge, Colorado; biomechanic Dr. Michael Kleinberger from Clarksville, Maryland; and former CPSC employee William Kitzes of Boca Raton, Florida. Yamaha's witnesses included engineer Kevin Breen from Fort Myers, Florida; biomechanic Dr. Ted Bain from San Antonio, Texas; biomechanic Dr. Robert Piziali from San Carlos, California; and vehicle design engineer Lee Carr from Houston, Texas.

Plaintiff was represented by Fred Levin, Aaron Watson, Cameron Stephenson and Virginia Buchanan of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Echsner & Proctor, P.A. in Pensacola, Florida.  Yamaha was represented by De Martenson and David Brown of Huie, Fernambucq & Stewart LLP in Birmingham, Alabama.

The McMahon verdict follows three defense verdicts in Yamaha Rhino cases earlier this summer.  One of Yamaha's lead counsel in defending the Rhino, Paul Cereghini (Bowman and Brooke LLP, Phoenix, Arizona), commented:

"The jury's unanimous defense verdict in the McMahon trial again demonstrates that juries are not buying plaintiffs' allegations about the Rhino's handling, stability and crashworthiness.  Once again, a jury has unanimously rejected these claims and found in Yamaha's favor. These verdicts are further proof that the Rhino is a safe and defect free vehicle and that Yamaha can, and will, aggressively and successfully defend this excellent product."

Yamaha has now successfully tried Rhino cases to defense verdicts against the major plaintiff firms who filed multiple cases involving these vehicles.   Mr. Cereghini was Yamaha's lead trial counsel in Richard B. Holt, Plaintiff vs. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. Superior Court of California, for the County of Orange – Civil Complex Center, Case No. 06CC11291, which ended in a unanimous defense verdict on July, 27, 2010.  Plaintiff's trial counsel in Holt, Scott Nealey (Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, San Francisco, California) and Tony Klein (Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb & Kimball, LLP, Bakersfield, California) and defense counsel Paul Cereghini (Bowman and Brooke LLP, Phoenix, Arizona) are lead counsel in the California consolidated Rhino cases.  Their law firms also have leadership roles in the federal Rhino MDL.  On August 12, 2010, Yamaha received a unanimous defense verdict in Paul Mathis, Plaintiff v. Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.; Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.; Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America; and Tway's Cycles, Inc., d/b/a Twin Cities Yamaha, Defendants, Circuit Court of Tallapoosa County, Alabama, Case No. CV-08-900003.  Plaintiff's counsel in Mathis, Jason Shamblin, and his firm, Cory, Watson, Crowder & DeGaris, P.C., represent plaintiffs in numerous Rhino cases.  Similarly, plaintiff counsel in the McMahon case, Fred Levin and his firm Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Echsner & Proctor, P.A., represent plaintiffs in many other Rhino matters.


Paul G. Cereghini

Bowman and Brooke LLP


Kelly Cross

Levick Strategic Communications


SOURCE Bowman and Brooke LLP