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Yamaha wins Frye motion rejecting computer model of accident

February 2011

Jones Day represented Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. ("Yamaha") in a high-visibility case in Philadelphia where counsel from two of the lead national plaintiff's firms were seeking significant compensatory and punitive damages against Yamaha, the manufacturer of an off-road vehicle, the "Rhino." Ronald Carr ("Carr"), an accident reconstructionist who plaintiff's counsel was using in more than 100 Rhino cases, used a computer program to supposedly model the Rhino's movements during a roll-over accident and to create a graphic simulation of the tip over of the vehicle. Carr relied on this model for opinion testimony related to causation and the Rhino's stability. Yamaha moved to exclude Carr's opinion in the Court of Common Pleas. Because of the complex nature of the proposed opinion and the computer program at issue, the Court postponed the start of the trial and conducted a Frye hearing.

The Court heard testimony for four days in August 2010, and it subsequently issued a 22-page opinion in February 2011 precluding Carr from offering his "Computer Generated Graphic," or testifying that the Rhino was defective. (Kennedy v. Yamaha, et al., Control #10063296). The Court concluded that Carr had effectively created the evidence and opinion he wanted to present to the jury and that his methodology was flawed "science" paid for and created by plaintiff's lawyers. The Court noted numerous points elicited during Jones Day's two-day cross examination of Carr on the details of the program, including Carr's admissions that he failed to incorporate necessary and relevant data into the program, and that the program was not properly validated or generally accepted in the scientific community. After the expert's testimony was disallowed, the case settled favorably.

Joseph Kennedy v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, et al. and Gino Irvello, No. 001549 (Penn. C.C.P., Philadelphia County – December Term, 2007)

For additional information about this matter, please contact: Paul M. Pohl, Dana Baiocco

Client(s): Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
Office(s): Pittsburgh, Boston