Yamaha loses crazy lawsuit, stuck throttle?

I don't know about this Paralyzed biker wins $24 million judgment

New Lenox man had sued Yamaha

By Mickey Ciokajlo

Tribune staff reporter

July 16, 2002

A New Lenox man who was paralyzed from the waist down after losing control of his motorcycle while jumping dirt mounds six years ago was awarded $24 million Monday by a Cook County Circuit Court jury.

Anthony O'Brien, 28, alleged during the trial that the carburetor on his 1996 YZ125 Yamaha stuck open as he approached his jump, causing the motorcycle to accelerate, said his attorney, Martin Healy.

O'Brien, who already had made about 10 jumps that day on his friend's farm outside Manhattan in Will County, landed on his buttocks, fracturing his spine, Healy said.

"We believe that he certainly was capable of doing what he was doing that day," Healy said. "Yamaha says he gave too much throttle as he was going up the ramp."

The jury delivered its verdict against Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A. and its parent company, Yamaha Motor Co. of Japan. The jury deliberated about five hours Monday after the monthlong trial, Healy said. An attorney for Yamaha declined to comment on the verdict Monday and would not say whether the company would appeal.

O'Brien had owned a smaller motorcycle and rode regularly as a boy and into his early teens. He later rode all-terrain vehicles and other friends' motorcycles until he bought the Yamaha two weeks before the accident.

Attorneys for Yamaha attacked his riding experience, but Healy said O'Brien had maintained his skill level.

A week before the accident, O'Brien noticed that the motorcycle would hesitate for a few seconds in returning to idle after he released the throttle, Healy said. The hesitation did not occur consistently, and O'Brien and his friends who examined the motorcycle could not determine the cause of the problem.

During the trial, Healy said he presented evidence that showed the chrome plating on the carburetor slide had started to peel, causing the slide to stick open and inject fuel into the engine after the throttle was released.

Yamaha attorneys argued that peeling chrome would not impair the function of the motorcycle, Healy said. However, Healy said he introduced evidence that showed such peeling was a violation of Japanese industrial standards.

On the day of the accident, O'Brien and three friends were jumping a pair of dirt mounds 3 to 4 feet high and about 12 feet apart. When O'Brien crashed, he launched off one mound and landed a few feet past the second one, Healy said.

Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune

[ July 18, 2002: Message edited by: Dan Lorenze ]

That's insane! That's way too much money. Usually the judgement is based on lost lifetime earning potential (the majority), pain and suffering, and future medical/living expense. I'm assuming that the guy was a talented professional sportsman or something with a large income. Then it makes some sense. If that were the case though I'm sure he wouldn't have been jumping a bike that had an inconsistant throttle behaviour. Why was Yamaha sued and not the carb manufacturer or the owners of the property?

Can anyone forsee the day when Yamaha etc. decide to stop making bikes because the potential liabilities outweigh the risks. The combination of irresponsible/ignorant people with a litigious blame culture is currently producing outcomes that are not sustainable. Here in Oz the public liabilitiy insurance rates have increased up to %1000 over the last year. Many organisations, including MX tracks and bike parks cannot afford these rates and are closing.

Recently an Australian bloke won a $multimillion suit against a local council because he was paralysed after he hit his head on a sandbar at the beach. He was half-drunk and still coming down from an ecstacy binge he had the night before. He ran into the water and dived yet he wasn't fully responsible for his injuries. That was because there was no sign that said 'Caution: Don't dive into shallow water. Ojects appear farther away when you are half-cut'. Do you think he would have noticed it?

Sh!t happens. It really does - and many of us know this. Such is life.

It just makes me sick, I can't stand it that someone would get away with that. Everyone of us who rides know the risks involved. I am sorry that the man is paralyzed but there are many reasons why the throttle could have stuck. Bullsh@#%$!!! People like this that give our sport a bad name. Frank :):D

I'm with you guys except that big companies make a judgement call when they are sued for 200,000. They say "it was only 200k, not worth retooling the plant so we will let it ride and do nothing"

My point is companies do what they have to and not what is right. If you could count on Yamaha to say "wow someone got hurt lets do something" we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Ya 24 million is too much but you can bet they will fix it or spec a different carb

You're assuming it was a design error. It could very easily have been (and IMHO was most likely) user error, especially since I don't recall hearing about a particular model Yamaha with a notoriously sticky throttle. Maybe he played with the needle and put it back in wrong, maybe the top of the carb was loose and he didn't check it good before he rode it and the slide went up too far, rotated and got stuck on the idle screw sticking the throttle at about half way open (I've seen this happen), I could come up wtih 100 what-ifs but without proof we'll never know what really happened so why speculate.

I'm sure it's not the first time they were sued and I'm sure it won't be the last. The only solution is going to be to require jurries to be made up of smart + logical people (never happen) or some sort of cap on dollar awards in suits like this (good luck with this one). As long as lawyers are making the laws, the rest of us are just screwed.

Here we go again

Im gonna sue for double posts, I have been hurt by them.

Each time I have to double type from a double post I get double hurties on me fingers.

Oh and lets talk about aggrevasion thats worth 20 mill easy

This is already been beat on in another post

By Kfrosty as $24 Million for landing on your tail. Ouch . give it a rest already

[ July 19, 2002: Message edited by: E.G.O.**** ]


Whilst reading through TT I've come across many of your previous posts. They are abundant in frequency if not in substance. I am able to say with certainty that I am not interested in your opinion. Others may surely agree.

Here's a simple axiom which may be worth embracing.

"If you've got nothing to say, say nothing"

BTW: Here's another thread on the same topic:


I notice you haven't added your thoughts there yet.

10,000 members can express themselves in multiple threads. It actually works better that way.

[ July 19, 2002: Message edited by: chookChaser ]

So who asked you any way auzzie.

To know me is to love me. Your new here so I willst let you go.

Personally I can give a Rats A%% if you like me or not. About the only thing ghood I can say for you is nothing, Why is that Auzzie

Becouse I dont know you from Adam. So lil troll go away

Here is my Axiom


Gday Mate

Fair Dinkum


Sorry TT'rs

I got a bad headache, I am pissed already and my day off to spend with my wife for our anniversery just got shot to hell.....


[ July 19, 2002: Message edited by: E.G.O.**** ]

It's so easy to say "this has already been covered" A person would take it on themselves to feel bad about it. When you talk down to others, IT's DIFFERENT!! I'm with chookchaser, EGO's a internet looser..

sirthumpalot good point. My 99 yz 125 had a factory recall on throttle stick and yamaha did the work for free. That could have been the same time as this court case. I say they are doing their part then!!

Hhmmmm....here is a dumb idea, if my throttle sticks and I am about to fly over a jump I cant handle maybe I should abandon the bike and slide out.....or how about use the brakes and force a slower speed crash.....our sport is risky and this lawsuit is BS.....

That said I think I will be sueing EGO and CookChaser for creating a hostile environment on this website...oh SH*T...I should sue ThumperTalk too for creating the site and providing the forum.....ahhh, and Hart as well....hhmmmmm who els can I sue....this is great......oh, yeah, Shawn MC supported EGO so I can add him to the list....... :)

This site is great. I always get good answers to my questions. I have purchased the following items and TTr's have been very helpfull: Dr. D hotstart, promotobillit endcap, E-line skidplate, Maxxis tires, Devol rad. guards.....

I have been a member for awhile and have learned many things....some of them are learning to accept other members attitudes and opinions. EGO always has an opinion and that is expected (I even look forward to it now)...SirThhump and Shawn MC are usually not as outspoken but provide lots of good information.....for you newbies read the site awhile an learn the "jackets" of the posters by their threads.........and if you decide they arre idiots ignore their posts or dont read them.

and most of all.......DONT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. :D


PS.....all those listed can expect process servers with subpoenas arrriving shortly..... :D:D:D:D

The chrome chipped off the throttle slide right, causing it to apparently get stuck. Well that could of been his fault, maybe he didnt clean his air filter very often causing dirt to get in which chipped the coating off. Just a thought.

Hart, and cookchaser, yall are newbies to this site, dont start tellin folks whats what until you know what your talking about. Go back and look at how many posts have been made and you'll be able to tell whos been around and who hasn't. If you have some sort of handle on someone personality, you can deal with them mentally. If you dont know what that means, think about it for a while, Im sure you'll get it, simply on the basis that I dont believe your stupid until proven to be.

Ego may be an acquired taste, but dont knock him until you understand him.

I appreciate the point about understanding people!! I am treating this board as as a public place and not a private flaming, joking, etc.. Yet there are so many people who live on this board and personal dynamics are entertaining to them.

This constant "you dumb a#$" gets old for anyone who is visiting the site. Instead of trying to understand someone, it may be easier to just stop the negative stuff at the source.. The good info on this site is almost not worth the endless negative energy!!

The private school attitude sure scares off a lot of good newbies!!

Newbie? Well that's relative. I have been using the Internet a long time. I have been visiting TT since last year, searching and reading... learning too. You only need to register to make a contribution. It's clear that the newbies ask questions that have already been answered and the 'live-in' members say whatever they want whenever they want. If this is about 'dick size', hart was registered here before everyone that's posted this thread. We are not newbies. We are fellow members of TT.

As hart pointed out, there is a lot of good info at this site but it does take time to find it amongst the background noise. Right now, we are just adding more noise to Dan's thread. Some threads I've read have spoken about a time in TT's infancy when the site contained pure info. Sounds great doesn't it. That has not been my experience though. To me, TT has always contained 90% BS. Perhaps a future release of UBB will implement an ignore function that extends across the entire DB and not just PM.

As for accepting others as they are... if it's reasonable for the likes of EGO to offer inane responses whenever he pleases, then be prepared for me to offer a reasoned rebuke like I did above. Hey that's just how I am!

BTW: Some of you need to get out more. I have never met an Australian who acts like the Crocadile Hunter etc. Global isolation means we are heavily reliant on technology and our communities are as educated and modern as anywhere. Also, we call it like it is.

Hey everybody, waah, waaah WAAAAH.

"Straight Talk About 4-Strokes," remember?

Everyone lighten up, have a little fun, and try to stay on topic.

Just my too sense.

Flame away. :)

P.S. Good post Dan!

[ July 20, 2002: Message edited by: cyclenut51 ]

There are more nonsense posts (which I add plenty to) because everyones waiting for the 450 to come out. When people start riding the things there will be more constructive posts.

I might even post something intelligent.

Life is to short to be serious.

I may be mistaken, but, isn't this called ThumperTalk. Let's not bash others for their Posts. I get the impression some of the members think they OWN this board! If you don't like a Post, don't respond to it! Not everyone's perfect like you.

EGO, I found this article on Racrxill.com when is was 2 days old. I never saw it posted dude! I did not mean to double post, in fact if you didn't reply an mention it none of this flaming would be happening. It's obvious that some of us didn't know about the article (I didn't). Sorry about your big Anniversary blow out dude. (I guess she didn't buy you the 450 huh?) :) Seeing Yamaha in a court battle is a story regarding our sport. I thinks it's worthy for us to talk about.


EGO, Are we related somehow?? :D Lorenz(e)


Unless you crash ,like me above I dont think so..

So Auzzie, Ya say being isloated bring you closer to technology.


maybe so but it dont bring yu out of the Dark ages do it.

Case in point

How do you all feel about aberiginees HUmmm

Ya dont ya treat em like dogs dont ya. Seems like you all have a jaded past on that one that beats our own (US) treatment of slaves.

So if you want to respond with a jab thats cool I can take it, But expect a jab back

To Auzie and Hartiat

If one thinks I promote calling people names and cussing at them your dead wrong (PINHEADS) :)

On the contrary, the only reason I would resort to that is if someone starts it with me. Go vback read my posts and DONT TAKE THEM OUT OF CONTEXT, you find one post where I started the Cusing and name calling, I will admit it and appologies.

You wont find it.

BTW I have to work with some Auzzies in a techno field, Im not impressed at all, plus I find them kind of redundant

So lets stick with the original post.

The guy that sued is a dim wit, thats my opinion and I willbe quite now

[ July 20, 2002: Message edited by: E.G.O.**** ]

How do you all feel about aberiginees HUmmm

Fine. Cool people, down to earth - not into all our materialism and junk. I've even had Aborigine friends. Presently I've got friends from Viet Nam, Thailand, Singapore, Nepal, India, Croatia and even America. People are people. Good and bad.

So if you want to respond with a jab thats cool I can take it, But expect a jab back

:) ... pure genius, that's my philosophy too. See EGO, even though I'm a redundant unimpressive Aussie techno trash, I'm just like you... only... :D ... nevermind.

So lets stick with the original post.


This topic is now closed to further replies.