The national law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP announced Wednesday that Jeremy and Heidi Crow of Winnsboro, Newton County, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Yamaha Motor Corporation relating to the death of their son, Jeremy Todd “J.T.” Crow, in an ATV accident June 22.
Crow, age 9 at the time of his death, was the grandson of Greg and Sherrie Crow of Ennis and great-grandson Bartine Donnell and Geraldine Gressett, all of Ennis.
According to a statement released by the law firm, Crow was a belted passenger on a Yamaha Rhino ATV when the vehicle rolled over at a slow speed.
“The Yamaha Rhino’s lack of doors resulted in his ejection despite being belted,” according to the statement, which indicates the child was pinned underneath the ATV.
Crow suffered substantial injuries and was pronounced dead at Jasper Memorial Hospital in Jasper, according to the statement.
“Because of this tragedy so many persons have been deeply affected for the remainder of their lives. J.T. was a very smart and beautiful boy. He excelled at academics and sports, but most special was his compassion for others and gift for making people feel important,” Heidi Crow said in a statement released about the lawsuit. “It is written, ‘He who saves one life, saves the entire world.’ That is why our family has filed suit against Yamaha. The Rhino vehicle is unsafe and poses a grave hazard to its riders.”
“The complaint charges that the Yamaha Rhino ATV is prone to roll over during turns even at low speeds because of inherent flaws in its design,” said Fabrice N. Vincent of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP. “Yamaha has been aware for years of serious injuries and deaths of drivers and passengers in rollover accidents, yet has not modified the Rhino’s design to correct for its stability problems.”
The law firm notes that in August, Yamaha announced that in response to the risk of injury during side rollover accidents, it is offering to install doors and passenger handholds for the Rhino ATV. The doors are meant to prevent riders from sticking out arms or legs during rollover accidents, according to the law firm, which said Yamaha is offering to install these new safety features free of charge to all 2004-2007 Rhino owners, regardless of whether the vehicle was purchased new or used. Owners are instructed to visit Yamaha dealerships for details, according to the law firm.
“I am gratified to see that Yamaha is beginning to recognize that the Rhino is prone to rollover even on flat surfaces during turns,” Heidi Crow said in the statement. “Yamaha should widely publicize its offer of safety upgrades for Rhino. Doors and passenger handholds, however, do not prevent rollovers. If safety is its highest goal, Yamaha must modify the design of the Rhino itself to eliminate its instability.”
“No more children should die in Yamaha Rhino accidents,” said plaintiffs’ counsel Glenn M. Douglas of Crowley Douglas & Norman LLP. “Yamaha must acknowledge its legal responsibility to families of loved ones killed in rollover accidents as it works to make the Rhino a safe vehicle.”
The family also is represented by Enrique Serna of Serna & Associates PLLC.