Posts Tagged ‘SSV’

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

February 4, 2009

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.

Kawasaki – Made in the USA

January 6, 2009

Kawasaki operates six businesses in the United States, two of which pertain to consumer products:kmm1 Kawasaki Motor Corp USA (KMC), the sales unit, and Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA (KMM), the production unit.

KMM, a sister company and supplier to Irvine, Calif.-based KMC, has operations in Lincoln, Neb., and Maryville, Mo. KMM builds all of Kawasaki’s ATVs, Jet Ski personal watercraft and Mule utility vehicles.

Here’s what I learned during a visit to the Lincoln site.

Kawasaki became the first foreign vehicle manufacturer to enter the U.S. The consumer products manufacturing facility in Lincoln, located on 335 acres, opened in 1974 as a 286,000 sq. ft. plant.
At the time, the company was producing motorcycle and personal watercraft stateside, cranking out about 50,000 units annually during those first few years.

pwctops21 pwchullprep3 pwcengineplacement

Today, an estimated 1,000 workers produce about 120,000 vehicles each year at the nearly 1.3 million sq. ft. facility. Production operations include fiberglass molding, fabrication, welding, rim forming, painting and assembly. The site also produces wheels sold to BRP, Honda, Polaris and Suzuki.

welding atv_engines atvframe

Bruce Spilker, a KMM production supervisor, says the three ATV assembly lines in Lincoln produce about 100 units daily while the personal watercraft assembly line kicks out about 120 boats per day. Each production line is capable of mixed model production. Production schedules come monthly from KMC. A recently completed fourth assembly line, formerly dedicated to motorcycle assembly, produces Mule utility vehicles.

atvchassis bodyplacement wheelattachment

KMM’s Maryville plant opened in 1989 for production of general-purpose engines. Employing more than 600 workers, the facility has grown to more than 700,000 sq. ft. on 113.7 acres and produces about 500,000 units annually. Workers complete die-casting, injection molding, machining, painting and assembly.

atvfinished testing2 finishedproduct1

Both the Lincoln and Maryville plants operate on a “just in time” supply method, which eliminates massive amounts of warehousing and over-ordering of parts.

Click here to learn more about powersports manufacturers’ operations in the U.S.

Motion Filed to Consolidate Yamaha Rhino Suits

January 2, 2009

A motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize product liability lawsuits related to the Yamaha Rhino. Although Yamaha has not confirmed how many cases have been filed by injured riders, estimates suggest that more than 200 lawsuits against the Rhino are currently pending in various state courts and federal courts throughout the country.

Several plaintiffs who have pending cases are requesting that 57 Rhino ATV lawsuits be transferred from

Yamaha markets five Rhino models for 2009. The units sell for a suggested retail price of between $8,499 and $12,399.

Yamaha markets five Rhino models for 2009. The units sell for a suggested retail price of between $8,499 and $12,399.

33 different U.S. District Courts to one court where they will be coordinated as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. An MDL is a federal procedure that allows multiple cases with common underlying facts to be consolidated for pretrial litigation. An MDL is often granted in cases where it will help avoid duplicative discovery, eliminate inconsistent rulings, conserve the resources of the parties and the court, and serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses.

The Yamaha Rhino was first introduced in 2003. The product liability lawsuits all allege that design defects in the side-by-side ATV caused the vehicle to rollover, resulting in serious and debilitating injuries for riders. The lawsuits allege that the Rhino was negligently designed with a narrow wheelbase, high center of gravity, small turning radius and powerful engine, which combine to make the vehicle inherently unstable.

In September 2006, Yamaha sent a letter to owners acknowledging the risk of rollovers. In the letter, they outlined that riders should be careful to keep their arms and legs inside the vehicle during a rollover. The OEM began offering doors and additional passenger handlebars in 2007.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will consider the Motion filed by some of the plaintiffs to form a Yamaha Rhino ATV Products Liability MDL at a hearing scheduled for January 29 at the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Fort Myers, Fla.

Baltimore-based Saiontz, Kirk & Miles, P.A.
 is among the many law firms pursuing litigation. Saiontz, Kirk & Miles, P.A has more information pertaining to the Yamaha Rhino suits at its website, AboutLawsuits.com.