February 3, 2012 --
The Didier Law Firm, P.A. obtained an $8.4 million dollar verdict yesterday on behalf of 36-year old Jasper, FL resident Michael Joseph Scott Corbett. A 6-member jury for the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Jasper, FL deliberated for just over three hours before making their decision.
The case involved the 2008 Artic Cat Thundercat 1000 ATV, which Mr. Corbett was test-driving at the Jasper Rodeo on May 4, 2008. Within minutes of beginning the ride, Mr. Corbett hit a divot causing the ATV to roll over and land on top of him with the tires in direct contact with his body. The ATV has a safety system which, upon tilting past 65 degrees, is designed to shut off the engine automatically to prevent injuries. Despite such design, Artic Cat chose to use a tilt sensor that was known to give false signals about the vehicle’s position, and, as a result, the ATV did not shut off in this accident. Internal documents of Artic Cat revealed they knew five months before manufacturing this ATV that it had a problem with the tilt sensor, but chose to leave the tilt sensor on the ATV instead of fixing it.
“This company put profits over people – saving a mere $4.41 cents per vehicle - when it knowingly put an ATV with a defectively designed safety system into the market,” said Plaintiff’s counsel, Henry “Hank” Didier.
As a direct result of his injuries, Mr. Corbett will never again be able to work in the construction industry, where he was previously a successful foreman. Also, due to the severe friction burns he sustained to both arms, both legs and his abdomen because of contact with the spinning tires, Mr. Corbett faces numerous additional surgeries in the future to address his wounds and scars.
“The industry is well aware that ATVs can and do roll over in all types of situations, and safety systems, like the automatic safety cut-off system on this ATV, are critical to protect users and save lives. In this case, despite knowing that its safety system didn't work, this company chose to use a tilt sensor that does not shut down the ATV when desired. In fact, it continues to use it in its models today, putting thousands of riders at risk,” added Mr. Didier.