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Litigation

Lawsuit Alleges Design Flaws In Yamaha Rhino Led To Deaths

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mark P. Chalos of the national plaintiffs' law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP has announced that Melissa and Richard Lee Bates, of Southaven, Miss., and Aundria and Thomas Dilworth, of Olive Branch, Miss., on March 31 filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Yamaha Motor Corp. and Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America.

According to the lawsuit:

On Oct. 18, 2008, Emily Ann Bates and Lauren Elizabeth Dilworth, both 11 years old, were riding in a Yamaha Rhino in DeSoto County, Miss., when the vehicle at a slow speed rolled over unexpectedly, pinning Emily Ann Bates underneath and causing severe trauma to her head. First responders rushed Bates to the emergency room of Baptist-DeSoto Hospital in Southaven, Miss., where she was pronounced dead. Dilworth was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The lawsuit charges that the Yamaha Rhino is dangerously unstable and contains multiple design and engineering flaws increasing the likelihood of fatal injuries to occupants in the event of an accident," said Chalos, counsel to the parents.

The complaint charges that the Yamaha Rhino is excessively prone to roll over even at low speeds, on flat terrain, and while conducting safe turns, because of inherent flaws in its design, including having a narrow track width, high platform, high center of gravity, wheels too small to maintain stability and top-heavy design.

The complaint further alleges that the Yamaha Rhino contains multiple design and engineering flaws increasing the likelihood of fatal injuries to occupants in the event of an accident. The allegations include that the Rhino is equipped with defective doors, inadequate seat belts, and a dangerous roll cage. In many accidents, occupants have been ejected from their Rhino due to its deficient seat belt system and then suffered a fatal or catastrophic injury because they were struck by the vehicle's roll cage. With a dry weight of more than 1,000 pounds, when a Yamaha Rhino flips over, its heavy, unpadded, steel roll cage can itself become extremely dangerous, causing severe injuries or death.

The lawsuit was filed in Georgia state court, Gwinnett County, where Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America has its principal office.

The Web site www.yamaharhinorolloverandrecall.com is an online resource for persons injured and families of loved ones who died in Rhino accidents.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP is a 60-plus attorney law firm that has represented plaintiffs nationwide since 1972. It has offices in San Francisco, New York and Nashville, Tenn.