Rhino Suits Beg the Question: Is Product or Driver to Blame?

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The father of Michael Lane McCloud, passenger on a Yamaha Rhino that flipped over, landed on top of and killed the young man in August of 2008, filed suit in Dallas County on Monday.

Michael McCloud alleges that Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.,yamaharhino Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., are negligent for failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of plaintiffs by negligently designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling the vehicle without the necessary safety features.

The lawsuit further alleges Yamaha is negligent for failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of plaintiffs by negligently designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling the vehicle without the necessary safety features.

What McCloud’s attorney, Rob Ammons of Houston-based Ammons Law Firm, failed to disclose in his Internet-posted press release was 1) how old the driver was, 2) in what manner the Rhino was being operated, and 3) whether the existing passenger restraints were being used.

One thing is for certain: Lawsuits pertaining to the Rhino side-by-side are mounting against Yamaha, and the OEM’s legal department is going to have to conduct a massive effort to defend the company from fault in a society where the call for litigation evidently trumps personal responsibility.

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11 Responses to “Rhino Suits Beg the Question: Is Product or Driver to Blame?”

  1. John Sand Says:

    Here are some INTERESTING documents FROM Yamaha…..pretty incriminating in my opinion.

    1) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%233%20PROOF.pdf

    2) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%235%20PROOF.pdf

    3) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%238%20PROOF.pdf

    4) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%2310%20PROOF.pdf

    5) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%2311%20PROOF.pdf

    6) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%2313%20PROOF.pdf

    7) http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/%2314%20mtg%20notes.pdf

    8) Here is a 20 page report as to the WHY a Rhino is SO dangerous: http://web.me.com/yamaha.rhino/Site/Welcome__files/Mike%20Burleson%20Report.pdf

  2. John Sand Says:

    In my opinion Yamaha needs to accecpt responsibilty for:
    1) NOT testing what would happen to a human in the event of a rollover
    2) Not testing with crash test dummies
    3) Hiding 4000+ pages of documents from subpoena and giving sworn testimony there was nothing more to give.

    Plus much much more

  3. 4wheeler Says:

    Well, in MY opinion, and in the opinion of many, MANY other forum members who are all too familiar with John Sand’s multiple posts over the past year on many different Rhino / UTV forums (most of which he has now been BANNED from), the responsibility lies upon the operator of the machine. Or, in Mr. Sand’s case, the parent who allows their child to ride in a UTV without knowing anything about the driver or their skills.

    I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of living in a society where NO ONE will accept responsibility for what they do. You know, I could live with it when that lady spilled her hot coffee on herself at McDonald’s and somehow convinced everyone it wasn’t her fault and sued….but when it starts to really hit home is when it has the potential to DIRECTLY affect me and my family’s way of life. We are avid ATV/UTV recreationalists. We love the dunes, and riding, and heading out for weekends with the family to unwind and let the stresses of today all melt away. It’s what we work for, what we look forward to, and what keeps our family close. These ridiculous (yes, I said it) lawsuits are now threatening to change MY way of life – and I take that personally.

    I have a Rhino sitting in my garage. It hasn’t blown up. It hasn’t started all on its own and run anyone over. When I have sat it in, without touching the steering wheel or gas pedal, or having turned the key on, it hasn’t flopped onto its side and pinned any of my body parts to the ground. It hasn’t run over the cat, or maimed the goldfish. It is pretty evident that, until I or someone else climbs into the driver’s seat and assumes control of this machine, that it’s not going to cause anyone harm. And there….THERE is the key component that everyone seems to be forgetting. HUMAN INPUT. Until a person in control of their bodily movements climbs into that driver’s seat…..responsibility of the Rhino having any issues is the OEM’s responsibility. But once someone climbs in and assumes control of that vehicle, IMO the responsibility for that machine’s actions are now 100% on THAT individual.

    What if that driver is young or impaired? Then it becomes the responsibility of that child’s parent, or the responsible party WITH the impaired individual. I have children – I don’t let them drive my car, for obvious reasons. I don’t let them drive my Rhino for the SAME obvious reasons. If they WERE to drive my Rhino and something was to happen, it would by ALL MEANS by MY FAULT, and no one else’s if they got hurt or killed. I am ultimately in charge of what they do, where, when and how, and I take that job more seriously than anything in this world.

    Rhino’s don’t maliciously flip on their own. As a regular driver, an ATV rider, and a Rhino owner, I can tell you that common sense has always told me how to drive, and how not to drive the vehicles I am in. I have flipped my quad before, but never ONCE did I ever blame Honda, or Yamaha for MY operator error. Without MY input, the quad would have been just fine. My ex flipped my Nissan Frontier once. He said he was just driving along a dirt road, went around a turn and it just flipped for no reason. Really? Funny, his girlfriend at the time, who was in the passenger seat during that unfortunate event, said he was going too fast and turned too suddenly – somehow I figured the Frontier didn’t just randomly flop over onto its roof.

    I’ve checked the links Mr. Sand has posted before – I have spent a lot of time reading through the sections that are highlighted and taken out of context as well. No matter what is being hand selected out of those depositions to suit Mr. Sand’s purposes, I still don’t believe that Yamaha should be held responsible for what another person decides to do once they are in control of a machine that obviously can’t operate on its own.

    John Sand is probably the last person who needs to be talking about accepting responsibility. For someone who has not accepted responsibility himself for ultimately failing to supervise his daughter, which led to a tragic and unfortunate accident, he sure has made it his life’s mission to point the blame finger anywhere but at himself – I happen to find it interesting that its ultimate direction happens to be towards the entity with the largest bank account.

  4. The BS continues..... - Yamaha Rhino Forum - Rhino Forums.net Says:

    […] […]

  5. Warlock Says:

    Mr Sands. You sir are a fool. The Rhino is not to blame, the irresponsible driver is at fault. He needs to own up to his actions and take responsibility for them.

  6. The BS continues..... - Yamaha Rhino Forum - Rhino Forums.net Says:

    […] to our "friend" Mr. Sand’s reply to this Yamaha Rhino article on the Dealer News Blog? https://dealernewsblog.wordpress.com/…iver-to-blame/ Or have any comments regarding this article’s main point – that no one wants to claim […]

  7. cameron shaw Says:

    I’ve owned 6 rhinos,motorcycles,racecars,quads, threewheelers etc….skateboards and bicycles too,a pogostick when I was a kid and a bbgun….these lawsuits are clearly acts of negligence on the operator and or owners. There are risks everywhere,when is the supreme court of this once honorable nation going to stand for what is right and denounce these frivaless lawsuits and show the americans that they need to be responsible for their own actions,good or bad….a rhino lawsuit is as much a joke as a person sueing for falling off a bicyle! Period!…there’s nothing wrong with a rhino,a teryx,RZR or a threewheeler atc, its the operators error period!

  8. Bob Says:

    I wrote a quick letter to the authors of a story that appeared on The Wall Street Journal some time ago about this issue and the individuals involved, the text of which follows below . . . .

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Bob
    Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2008 8:22 PM
    To: Trottman, Melanie; Conkey, Christopher
    Subject: Yamaha Rhino

    I own a 2008 Yamaha Rhino, four Jeeps (three that are “short wheel base”), a ’05 Mustang GT and over ten firearms, any of which can kill or cause injury if used improperly.

    I’m sorry that the main contributor to this article lost a family member due to his lack of oversight, supervision and the general neglect of his kid’s well being, but just like walking across a street, there are inherent risks in life and discretion is the better part of valor. Just my two cents . . . .

    From: Trottman, Melanie [mailto:Melanie.Trottman@wsj.com]
    Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 6:28 AM
    To: Bob
    Subject: RE: Yamaha Rhino

    Thanks for writing. Several skilled owners of off-road vehicles have written to say that use requires a certain level of experience and judgment. So one question I have is whose responsibility is it to inform riders/purchasers of that? Federal regulators? The manufacturer? The dealers? It’s clear that there are people who ride them seemingly unaware of the skill required.

    Best,
    Melanie

    From: Conkey, Christopher [mailto:Christopher.Conkey@wsj.com]
    Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 8:14 AM
    To: Bob
    Subject: RE: Yamaha Rhino

    Thanks for your note.

    From: Bob
    Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 8:49 AM
    To: ‘Conkey, Christopher’
    Subject: RE: Yamaha Rhino

    I had an extended conversation regarding the safety of OHVs with Melanie.

    Merry Christmas Chris and best wishes for a great New Year!

    Here’s a copy . . . .

    It is true that many things we endeavor to do in life require a certain level of experience and judgment. Again, crossing the street requires experience and judgment. As children we are cautioned to look both ways before crossing, use crosswalks and that’s about it. I’ll go out on a limb here and wager that more people are killed monthly nation wide crossing the street than per year riding OHVs

    I couldn’t help myself so I had to go look . . . . Focusing on Pedestrian Safety, May/June 2008 Public Roads. “With close to 5,000 pedestrians being killed on our Nation’s roads each year, improving pedestrian safety is one of the FHWA Office of Safety’s top priorities”. Dang, it’s about even . . . . ATVSafety.gov National Statistics.

    Granted, there are a far greater number of pedestrians than OHV users but crossing a street doesn’t take nearly the amount of experience, skill and judgment that using an OHV does.

    I have over forty years of off-highway experience and I can still hurt myself each and every time I go rock crawling in one of my Jeeps, fly fishing along a stream or out on my Rhino to work my property (which many times involves a chainsaw by the way). All the experience, judgment, education, indoctrination or forewarning in the world won’t completely rule out the chance of an accident. Accidents are part of life and life is what happens on the way to doing what you had planned.

    I push my Jeeps to the limit out having fun rock crawling and have rolled them numerous times, the cause of the roll was never a design flaw created by the manufacturer nor their neglect to inform me of one, or the fact that it takes extraordinary experience, judgment, skill or education to avoid rolling. Nor was it the failure of someone to inform me that it can happen and tell me how to avoid it. The cause was always me pushing the limitations of the vehicle for that particular situation. Common sense rules in life and I forego it in cases like this for the adrenaline, taking full responsibility for my actions and the outcome. At two miles per hour and with proper basic safety equipment the odds are small I’ll ever be injured but there is still a risk.

    So, whose responsibility is it to inform riders/purchasers that use requires a certain level of experience and judgment?

    I don’t need or care for anymore Government; we have too much already and I do not believe that Federal Regulation is effective in practice anyway.

    It is my belief that most companies who sell things that can injure people take appropriate measures to ensure that at a minimum, they provide the same amount of education we received as kids about crossing the street. Most companies go far and above this basic level of instruction and I believe OHV manufacturers offer a very high level of transparency and educational information about the risks of using their products.

    Most OHV dealers offer training as do Regional OHV organizations like the one I’ve belonged to for ten years, the “California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs” (CA4WDC). We hold clinics several times a year throughout the state to educate folks who are new to our hobby.

    To me it’s a matter of personal responsibility; folks need to assume some instead of blaming others, perpetuating the overly litigious society we already live in.

    Have a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year Melanie!

    Best Regards . . . . Bob

  9. Daniel C. Says:

    I heartily agree with most of what’s been written above. The new Rhino recall that was just announced is one more the way the government is encouraging a climate where personal responsibility loses out to a nanny mentality. Where are the true adults? I really don’t need to be saved from myself…..

    As for Mr. Sands, here’s a 2008 article from the local Ohio newspaper where the accident happened. This pretty much says it all: http://tinyurl.com/c6fywv

    Dan

  10. P Boudreaux Says:

    At what point do the parents that made the “bad” decision not to follow the safety warnings that ended in a child getting killed, come into the scheme of things? Want to stop the deaths? Prosecute the adults that make the decision to endanger their children by not following the safety recommendations and guidelines. I think it’s about time the courts step up and hold these parents responsible. My family and I enjoy our Rhino’s. We adhere to the safety warnings and consider ourselves to be responsible riders and parents.

  11. Matt Says:

    The court case has been dismissed. Yamaha won. The thieving lawyers lost. The lying media (CBS) lost.

    http://4wheeldrive.about.com/b/2009/08/28/yamaha-rhino-rollover-lawsuit-thrown-out-of-court.htm

    Your own personal responsibility is the key factor in your safety in what ever you do.

    Riding against mfg’s suggested safety recommendations is not Yamaha’s fault. It’s YOUR fault.

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