April 7, 2009, Bakersfield, Calif. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an advisory to consumers last week not to use the Yamaha Rhino 450, 660 or 700 model off-highway recreational vehicles as Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA recalled 145,000 of the vehicles. Forty-six deaths have been attributed to the models, which were recalled for repairs designed to prevent accidents that resulted in the deaths and hundreds of injuries. Yamaha has also agreed to voluntarily suspend sales of these models immediately until repaired. The CPSC advised consumers to immediately stop using the vehicles until the repair is installed by a dealer.

Yamaha's actions follow numerous complaints by Yamaha drivers and passengers of serious injuries to legs and arms. These complaints originated shortly after the Rhino entered the consumer market in November of 2003. Anthony J. Klein, senior partner in the law firm of Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb and Kimball, LLP., represents more than 83 cases nationwide in both federal and state courts where users have experienced devastating injuries after Rhino rollovers. Klein has been appointed by the federal court to be part of the plaintiff's executive committee for the federal cases.

The law firm, the first to file a case against Yamaha for the safety shortfalls in their Rhino side-by-side vehicles, to date has settled 17 cases with the manufacturer. KDG hired highly regarded engineers, design experts and test drivers to independently study the Rhino. Rhinos were purchased and purposely rolled with two dummies of different weights to study the effects of different degree turns at a range of speeds on various terrains. Computer models were created showing the effects of the various forces generated by the accidents. In addition, Klein deposed all of the principle Yamaha employees responsible for the design, testing and manufacture of the Rhino. These studies were extensive and expensive, but Klein noted the time and money were well spent. "Our experts have provided us with test results that allow me to say the vehicle was defectively designed, and fails to provide adequate protection to the occupants' arms and legs."

These accidents typically occurred when the Rhino was being operated at a speed less than 20 miles per hour, and when making either a left or right turn. Many of these accidents took place in open flat areas or the owner's backyard, often within a week of purchasing the vehicle. "I strongly encourage owners...to get these repairs as soon as possible," CPSC acting chairman Nancy Nord said in a statement. "In the meantime, safety dictates not to use these vehicles until the repairs are made."

The severity of the leg and arm injuries vary enormously. Some lucky people were just scratched or bruised. "My clients are not the lucky ones," said Klein. Several have below-the-knee amputations. Nearly all have spent weeks in the hospital undergoing repeated surgeries. Excruciating bone infections are common with these crush injuries and some medical experts believe the infections will follow these people the remainder of their lives. "These are healthy, active, young people who are used to enjoying the outdoors, suddenly transformed into invalids," Klein added. "They are permanently damaged, while most are unable to go back to work that involves more than minimal physical exertion."

Other members of the KDG Rhino litigation team include Gary Logan, partner; Ryan Bright, associate attorney; Bill Means, investigator; Shelly Howlett, paralegal; Julia Vlahos, legal secretary; and Simona Hayes, legal secretary.

Klein, DeNatale, Goldner, Cooper, Rosenlieb & Kimball, LLP, based in Central California, has served clients on local, state, national and international levels for more than 55 years. With 56 highly skilled and experienced attorneys, KDG is a full-service law firm, providing aggressive, results-oriented legal representation. The firm offers a wide range of practice areas with the highest integrity to a diverse client base with offices located in Bakersfield, Calif., Fresno, Calif. and San Diego, Calif.

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