Yamaha 'not negligent' in first Rhino trial

Dailies -


Yamaha_Rhino.jpgYou’ve probably heard about the hundreds of lawsuits Yamaha is facing over its Rhino side-by-side ATV. Well, the first case, Johnny Ray vs. Yamaha Motor Co. just concluded in Yamaha’s favor, potentially setting a precedent for the rest.
Like bikes, ATVs are dangerous and are even more so if you’re stupid.
Despite prominent warnings not to operate the vehicle on-road, to wear
a helmet and to use the fitted seatbelts, hundreds of people have
decided it was Yamaha’s fault that they or their loved ones didn’t
bother to do any of the above and are suing the manufacturer for

In this case, heard in the Orange County, Texas District Court, Jurors
heard the story of 13-year-old Forest Ray who was killed when his Rhino
rolled while driving off grass and onto pavement. Ray wasn’t wearing
his seatbelt or his helmet and had his skull crushed under the weight
of the vehicle. His parents argued that, had the Yamaha Rhino been
fitted with rear differential gears, it may not have rolled as it
entered the road.

Treating the trial as a test case, Yamaha brought in engineers from
Japan, who argued that the Rhino was designated an “exclusively
off-road vehicle” and as such, rear differential gears would have been
more a “demerit” to safety in its intended use.

Southeast Texas Record via Jalopnik

  • Deltablues

    Why were they letting their 13 year old operate such a large ATV unsupervised? It amazes me that parents here in Arkansas will let their kids operate, unsupervised, an ATV that is almost as big as my first car (a ’78 Ford Feista).

    The vast majority of ATV owners here use common sense. But there are some that don’t. In the small town my parents live in, it is not uncommon to see a Momma with her two year old sitting on the gas tank as they ride the ATV, on city streets, up to the store.

    Last year a local man killed his niece when he let her ride an ATV with him and he collided head on with a car on the highway.

  • Brrradicle

    Can’t imagine my kid dies and I try to get rich off of a frivolous law suit. Go Yamaha!!

  • mototom

    The parents should appeal.
    All they need to do is demonstrate that the various warning labels, admonitions, etc., provided by Yamaha were overly complicated for those who suffer from an excess of recessive genes and therefore could not be understood by anyone who,through no fault of their own, is dummer than a box of monkeys. If further evidence is required,the parent’s attorney could refer the jury to the FOX network which has conclusively demonstrated that most adult Americanos are in fact dummer than a 5th grader.

  • geonerd

    Here in Montana it’s legal to license an ATV for the road. Any kind of ATV. I see kids, grandmas, teenagers, the whole gamut, on the roads everyday without any protective gear at all.

    In general, people are ignorant. But that doesn’t mean they’re dumb. I think it’s a problem related to safety education. In places like Montana very few people put any emphasis on safety because there is no organized campaign to stress its importance.

    • http://cohobot.blogspot.com coho

      “In places like Montana very few people put any emphasis on safety because there is no organized campaign to stress its importance.”

      So they aren’t liable for their own stupid because noone cajoled or forced them to not be careless?

      • geonerd

        That isn’t what i said, coho.

        I said that people here don’t place an emphasis on safety. Consequently there is a culture of indifference to safety measures.

        I’m an ATGATT guy. And I also believe there should be a helmet law in all states. However, 50 years ago no one wore seatbelts, or helmets. 20 years ago very few people put their kids in car seats. Consequently, death rates were higher then. But, that didn’t make people stupid or lazy. It meant they were ignorant, uninformed. I’m not making excuses for these people. But it is a reason.

        Brushing these people off as simply stupid might make you guys feel better about yourselves but it isn’t true and it does absolutely nothing to solve the problem.

        • http://cohobot.blogspot.com/ coho

          All people everywhere do, indeed have the right to ignore their own safety as long as they own that choice and don’t try to blame it on the manufacturer of whatever product they choose to use improperly or without training or on society at large for failing to make them learn.

          “A culture of indifference to safety” sounds an awful lot like willful ignorance (“if I don’t know about it it can’t hurt me”), and stupid on purpose is worse by far than stupid by accident.
          I know that’s not the case with Montanans as a whole. Most people, regardless of their geography, are reasonably aware of the probable results of their actions (ie. riding without a helmet, ironing their clothes while they’re wearing them, using their laptop in the tub, etc.), but “it’s never gone horribly wrong before” doesn’t mean it never will.

          It’s the consumer’s responsibility to choose to cover their own ass, not just hope somebody else does it for them.

          • geonerd

            Ah, the old “personal responsibility” speech. Well we disagree then. Sure, each person is responsible for their own actions. I don’t deny that. And incidentally, I think that this particular case reeks of the kind of stupidity, and personal irresponsibility that no law can affect. But I happen to think that the state does bear some responsibility in these matters. Just as the state monitors and regulates all kinds of other activities which the majority of us consider to be beneficial.

            It doesn’t make it a nanny state. It just helps keep the dumbasses in check and helps prevent ignorance from being perpetuated throughout the generations, as we see here in MT.

            • Core

              I just wanted to pass a old saying along to you..

              “You cannot legislate against stupidity” -author unknown

              And its the truth.

              I work in retail currently, and I was looking at a bottle of Lamp Oil the other day, that was red..had no real smell, and it had a sticker on it “Don’t drink”

              At one point or another some dumb ass took a swig, or probably several, or just one really noisy one, got sick or died, and they passed a law to put a warning on there.

              It’s like the warning labels on coffee.. “Contents Hot”.. No shit Sherlock.

              Those are a couple of examples.. but start looking at warning labels and it makes you think. There is a lot of stupid out there.

              I guess my point is this, laws don’t stop stupid, because only the smart people will pay attention to said laws.

              • geonerd

                Ok, but by that logic we don’t need any laws at all. Because the “smart people” already know how to behave and the dumbasses will break the law anyway.

                I’m talking about common sense. Most people don’t have it. That’s why we have laws, see. So that we can identify these kinds of things in a systematic, intelligent way and minimize them. It’s got nothing to do with legislating away stupidity.

              • http://motarded.blogspot.com Troy Smith

                I honestly believe that over time these warnings can do more harm than good.

                I myself am sometimes guilty now of having the mindset that if there isn’t some warning on a thing, then the thing must be safe.

                That is ridiculous!

                We can’t live that way because we can’t label everything. We’ll become a nation whose resources are tied up in being OCD and labeling everything known to man.

                I am a VERY firm believer in personal responsibility and the principle of “shit happens” and that there is not necessarily someone ELSE at fault (who you can then sue for monetary GAIN) everytime something bad happens.

                How is this even the slightest bit different from someone getting killed because they were in a car wreck and were not wearing their seat belt?

                The argument about a differential is embarrassing. They feel bad, they want to shift blame from themselves and their son, they also wouldn’t mind having a bunch of money. Absolutely shameful. They know in their heart that the differential argument is a load of bullshit. Or at least they did know that, before they talked themselves into believing their own bullshit so that they can sleep at night.

  • Michael

    The parents are idiots. They managed to pass that off to their child, who paid the ultimate price for stupidity.

    Maybe the parents should buy a Honda next. At least Honda has the one warning label, which a family such as the one described should heed above all others: “Stupid Hurts.”

  • uberbox

    i think what is really sad here is the parents projecting their negligence on Yamaha. Their son would might still be alive if at the very least he was strapped into the damn thing…it has a rollcage afterall.

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    This is terrible and sad. How did this kid not have his seatbelt on? And how can this be Yamaha’s fault? It’s a double-whammy of stupid and the parents unwillingness to accept accountability.

    The parents and their lawyers deserve nothing but scorn but a part of me still feels badly for the death of the teenager. I was a teenager once and I did all the stupid shit I could dream up – the only difference between me and this kid was luck and my parents. I would guess that the same is probably true of most of the people that visit this website.

  • sam

    im with coho. there doesnt need to be psa’s about people getting hurt for your to realize that a tumble off an atv on the concrete could very easily kill you. people arent in fact dumb they are just extrememly lazy.

  • http://www.americadelivered.com Nick

    I’ve learned that it is pretty hard to get hurt. when I was about 13, I flipped a 5bhp go kart going down hill at my cousins house, flew out, and it landed in my hip. It really hurt, but I was OK. If it had landed on my neck, I might not be here right now. Accidents happen all the time, and a very small percent of them end in tragedy. Yamaha isn’t any more liable for this than they would have been if the kid hadn’t been hurt at all. Doing fun stuff can be risky, but the parents need to understand that their kid died but millions of other kids are going to get lucky. It sucks but that’s the way the cookie crumbles–heck, the parents always knew that there was an itsy-bitsy chance their kid could die while driving the Rhino, but they thought it was slim enough not to be a bid deal. It’s still a big deal when it happens though, as everyone can see. People get all upset when the unlikely event they had thought wouldn’t happen eventually happens (or they get happy in the case of a lottery ticket), but it’s lame when they turn around and pretend that they never knew there was a chance.

    Don’t screw up everything else for those of us who can get to grips with probabilities. Yesterday I wasn’t allowed to have water balloons in Battery Park because a few years ago some kid had choked on a balloon and died. So we all went and had a water balloon toss in the street. Too many rules and too many people who think that all risk should be eliminated. The parents in this story had the option to buy some slow boring golf cart for their kid, but instead they bought a sweet Rhino. Please, please, let me have the choice to buy a Rhino too when I am a parent. I want my kid to have the option of learning how to handle a car…

    Good job for once legal system!

    • http://motarded.blogspot.com Troy Smith

      Nick, you nailed it buddy!

      You cannot eliminate risk and in many cases you should not.

      You just have to watch out for yourself and realize shit happens sometimes.

  • MTGR

    Always tragic when a child dies. As a parent it is my biggest fear. As others here already noted, life can be fragile and fate can be cruel even at the best of times but you combat that by using precaution and supervision, not suing after the fact an innocent manufacturer who did every legal thing required and then some to be sure you were warned. Sadly, in our “avoid all personal responsibility” society this will still probably lead to another ban. As with 3 wheelers, all it takes is some popular media to pick it up and sensationally present half the facts to the soccer moms across the nation “for the good of us all – eh comrades?”

  • Core

    I’m glad to see Yamaha came out ahead. I really am. I’d hate to provide a great product to people, and then be sued because they used the product in a manner that was not intended, or let someone else use it in a manner not intended.

    I like to see justice delivered nice and hot as much as the next person; only when it’s really earned though.

    In this case, I’m definitely on Yamaha’s side.

    It’s a shame what happened, but as they say, results don’t lie. And this accident lays squarely in the laps of the parent(s).

  • http://motarded.blogspot.com Troy Smith

    I also like the comment about recognizing that there’s an eensy weensy risk that you may die when you ride an ATV, but being ok with that. And then freaking out when it happens.

    I totally recognize that risk in most of my recreational activities. In the winter i recognize that there is risk of getting buried in an avalanche when snowmobiling or backcountry snowboarding. Although i’m pretty good about gear, i occasionally ride my TE610 downtown in shorts and a t-shirt. I am very much aware of the risk then, and if/when bad shit happens, i’ll have NO ONE TO BLAME BUT MYSELF. I recognize that and i feel that i can confidently say that i would not try to shift blame or dream up some reason why it’s someone else’s fault.

    I won’t make it an absolute statement of fact only because it’s unknowable until it actually happens.

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