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Yamaha Not Liable in Ohio Girl's ATV Death

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 31, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ellie Sand died in October 2007 as a result of an accident that threw her from a Yamaha Rhino ATV.

The Sands filed a wrongful death suit against the company, alleging that the Rhino ATV is defective and has caused 94 deaths in addition to their daughter's.

After 12 hours of deliberation last week, the jury found that Yamaha is not responsible for the death of Ellie Sand even though the Rhino ATV is defective.

Nils McElroy, who served 90 days in jail for Ellie's death, was driving the Yamaha Rhino ATV when Ellie was killed, reports the Zanesville Times Recorder. Despite his inexperience, he attempted a "high-speed 'fishtail stunt'" in a muddy field. The stunt caused the ATV to roll over.

In negligence and product defect suits, a plaintiff must show, in addition to the product being defective, that the defendant's product legally caused his injuries. This is called proximate cause.

Proximate cause is defined as the cause that sets in motion the events that result in a plaintiff's injuries. To meet this definition, a plaintiff must also show that the injuries were foreseeable consequences of the defendant's conduct.

The jury found that the Yamaha Rhino ATV boasts a few design defects that causes it to sporadically flip over. However, the jury also determined that Nils' stunt was the proximate cause of Ellie Sand's death.

In other words, Nils' improper use of the ATV in a dangerous area set in motion the accident that eventually ended with Ellie Sand being killed. The ATV's defects weren't part of the events that took place.

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