Suit alleges Yamaha Rhino at fault in death

Published August 21, 2009 By: Margaret Toal   Twelve people in Orange County are listening to engineers, looking at police photos and following computer graphics that seek to explain the death of a 13-year-old and the possible role of a Yamaha Rhino.   And there’s a crowd with them in District Court Judge Dennis Powell’s courtroom as more than a dozen lawyers and legal assistants take notes, type on laptop computers or check their Blackberries.   Sometime, perhaps as early as next week, the jury will be asked to decide where the responsibility for this accident lies.   Eddie Ray, 13, riding a Yamaha Rhino for fun while out of school for Hurricane Humberto when he died of a head injury after the four-wheel vehicle that resembles a souped-up golf cart flipped over.   Almost 500 legal cases have been filed against Yamaha regarding injuries connected with rollovers in the Rhino, which first hit the market in 2003. The case in Orange is the first in the nation to go to trial, said plaintiff’s lawyer Tim Malony of San Antonio.   Malony said the lawsuit is not asking for a specific amount of money in damages. The goal, he said, “is to get this product off the market.”   The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 59 deaths have been associated with the vehicle that is considered an “off-road vehicle” rather than an all-terrain vehicle.   Eddie Ray was a seventh-grade student at West Orange-Stark Middle School when he died after being injured on Sept. 13, 2007.

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