Crossroads residents claim ATV design caused crash, injury

A personal injury case that has ping-ponged between federal courts in Texas and Kentucky has finally made its way back to Victoria.

Victoria County residents Laurie and Drew Perry sued Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A. over a 2009 all-terrain vehicle accident.

Also named in the suit are Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corp. of America and Yamaha Motor Co.

The lawsuit was first filed in federal court in Victoria in August 2009, but was then transferred to federal court in Louisville, Ky., where the defendants already have a pending multi-district case pertaining to their Rhino all-terrain vehicles.

The case was sent back to the Victoria court in December.

In a formal response filed with the courts in September 2009, Yamaha denied the allegations against them, claiming Laurie Perry was negligent in the operation of the Rhino.

"At Yamaha, the safety of our customers is our company's highest priority. Yamaha is saddened whenever anyone is injured in a Yamaha product-related accident, and we urge all our customers to follow the safety recommendations on our products and, as importantly, to always operate the products in a safe and responsible manner," Van Holmes, public relations manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation's ATV & SXS Department, said in an email. "Yamaha does not comment on ongoing litigation. More than 99 percent of Rhino owners have operated their vehicles safely and responsibly over millions of hours of use. We stand firmly behind the Rhino as a safe and useful off-road vehicle and will vigorously defend the product."

Price Ainsworth, attorney for the plaintiffs, declined to comment further.

In March 2009, Laurie Perry was operating a 2008 Yamaha Rhino 700 ATV that she had purchased from a Victoria dealership, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends Perry drove the vehicle on relatively flat terrain when it rolled over, resulting in serious injuries to her left hand and body.

Perry claims the rollover was the result of negligence on behalf of Yamaha.

She claimed the company knew the Rhino was defectively designed, manufactured and/or marketed to people likely to use the product for its intended purpose.

"Consequently, defendants had a duty to warn the ultimate user of the defective design."