April 13, 2011 / Press Release

Jury finds in favor of Yamaha for Rhino product liability suit

Columbus – March 21, 2011 After three weeks of testimony and more than forty witnesses, a jury of eight returned a complete defense verdict in favor of Yamaha and its dealer, Clinton County Motor Sports, in Lebanon, Ohio on March 21, 2011. The suit originated from a 2007 rollover accident involving a Yamaha Rhino, which led to the death of a ten year-old girl. 

The case was brought by the Estate of Ellen Sand, c/o John C. Sand, Administrator, John Sand and Tammie Sand against Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, Clinton County Motor Sports, and Let It Gro, LLC, in Warren County Ohio.  Plaintiffs sought a total of $20 million in both compensatory and punitive damages based on the allegation that design defects were responsible for the child's death, and that the Rhino’s warnings were insufficient.

Yamaha contended that the negligence and recklessness of the participants caused the accident.  In particular, Yamaha demonstrated that an inexperienced 21-year-old driver was recklessly attempting a stunt maneuver in unsafe conditions, with four children inadequately protected in a two-person vehicle.  In what was reported to be one of the largest civil  trials in the history of Warren County, the verdict gave full vindication to Yamaha, its dealer, and the company hosting the event.

Yamaha was represented by Paul Cereghini and Jeffrey Warren of Bowman and Brooke's Phoenix office, and a team of attorneys from the Columbus and Cincinnati offices of Porter Wright.  The Porter Wright team was lead by Terrance Miller and included Carolyn Taggart and Anthony McClure.

"We are pleased with the verdict," noted Terrance Miller of Porter Wright.  "Their careful consideration of the evidence found that our client's product was not the cause of this tragic accident.  The Rhino is a safe and defect free vehicle."

Terrance Miller is the Chair of the Firm's Product Liability Practice.  He can be reached at 614.227.2142 or [email protected].

Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP is a large regional law firm that traces its origins to 1846 in Ohio. With offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and Naples, Florida, Porter Wright provides counsel to a worldwide base of clients.