Defense Verdict in Yamaha Rhino Trial Involving Statute of Limitations

by Off-Road Hub Mag | Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Yamaha now 10-0 in Rhino Cases That Have Gone to Trial

yamahaPHOENIX, AZ – November 29, 2011 – After a two day bench trial to address whether Arizona’s two-year statute of limitations barred plaintiff’s suit, a judge in the Maricopa County Superior Court, Phoenix, Arizona found in favor of Yamaha in a case involving a 2004 Yamaha Rhino 660.  Matthew Robles, Plaintiff vs. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., and YSA Motorsports, LLC, Maricopa County Superior Court, State of Arizona, Case No. CV2010-023571, before the Honorable Michael Herrod.

The case involved 16-year-old Matthew Robles, who on December 4, 2004 sustained a leg injury while riding as a passenger in a 2004 Yamaha Rhino 660.  Mr. Robles turned 18 on January 28, 2006, and by Arizona law, had two-years to file his personal injury lawsuit.  Like most jurisdictions, Arizona has a “discovery rule” that tolls the statute of limitations “until the plaintiff knows, or within reasonable diligence, should know the facts underlying the cause for his injury.”

Mr. Robles claimed that he did not realize he might have a cause of action until the fall of 2009 when he saw a television commercial from the Goldberg & Osborne law firm soliciting potential clients injured in Rhino incidents.  Mr. Robles contacted Goldberg & Osborne and eventually filed his Complaint on August 11, 2010.

After a two day bench trial, the Court found for Yamaha, concluding that at the time of his incident, “sufficient facts existed for Plaintiff to determine that he might have had a case against Yamaha,” and that the Plaintiff “had a duty to timely investigate whether the design of the Yamaha Rhino may have been causally related to his injuries.”  Further, the Court stated that Plaintiff presented “no legitimate, justifiable, or equitable reasons for failing to investigate with due diligence.”  For these reasons, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to satisfy his burden that the statute of limitations was tolled, and that Yamaha was the prevailing party as the statute of limitations had run.

Yamaha’s lead counsel, Paul Cereghini, of the national product liability defense firm, Bowman and Brooke LLP, commented on the verdict:

“Anyone who is thinking about bringing a time barred claim should take note of this verdict.  This case didn’t make it past Yamaha’s statute of limitations defense.  All this plaintiff will see from this lawsuit is an adverse cost award that he should have to pay.

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