Canadian Class Action Commenced Against Yamaha for Rhino Tip-Over Accidents
TORONTO, April 1, 2009 – A proposed national class action claim has been issued with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on behalf of all persons in Canada who suffered personal injury following tip-over accidents involving Yamaha Rhino Recreational Utility Vehicles (“Rhinos”), and family members of those injured Canadians.
The claim was issued as a result of the death of thirteen year old Wyatt Bauer, who died when the Rhino he was driving flipped over, causing multiple injuries, including fatal head trauma. The claim will be amended to include the allegations of Colin Baker, whose foot was trapped by the unpadded roll cage of a doorless Rhino that tipped over, resulting in multiple corrective surgeries.
The class action alleges that the Rhino is prone to tip over because of its narrow track-width, high platform, high center of gravity and top-heavy design, all of which lead the vehicle to easily tip over under normal and foreseeable driving conditions, including at low speeds on even terrain.
Since the introduction of these vehicles in 2003, Rhino accidents have caused at least 46 deaths in the United States alone, and have injured and maimed literally hundreds of consumers, often causing severe crush injuries requiring surgery or amputation. The majority of the fatal accidents in the U.S. involved tip-overs which were allegedly caused by the Rhino’s extraordinary stability and passenger containment defects.
On March 31, 2009, after investigating more than 50 incidents involving 46 driver and passenger deaths in two Rhino models, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), announced a repair program for all Rhino 450, 660, and 700 models, in cooperation with Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A., to address rollover safety defects. The CPSC found that “…of the rollover-related deaths and hundreds of reported injuries, some of which were serious, many appear to involve turns at relatively low speeds and on level terrain”. It is unclear whether any of these recommendations will be implemented for the benefit of Canadian consumers.
“These vehicles have been inherently dangerous since they were first marketed by Yamaha”, said Joel P. Rochon, a partner at ROCHON | GENOVA LLP. “No parent should have to experience the Bauers’ unbearable loss and no person should have to undergo the medical complications that Mr. Baker is continuing to face. These outcomes would have been avoidable had Yamaha met the minimum safety standards. We urge Yamaha to take immediate responsibility by recalling the vehicles and extending compensation to victims”
The allegations raised in the claim have not yet been proven in court.