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POLARIS WINS UNUSUAL ‘DIRECTED’ DEFENSE VERDICT IN FLORIDA ATV TRIAL
Defense maintains no defect in handgrip claim from accident
PALM BEACH, FL - Three days into a jury trial, a Palm Beach County Circuit Court directed a verdict in favor of Polaris Industries and PowerSports of Boca Raton, Inc., on August 8, 2002.
Riding alone and without a helmet, plaintiff Ralph Brauser lost control of his 1999 Polaris Sportsman 4-wheel ATV on a mountain road and crashed into a tree. The accident occurred on July 3, 1999 near Mineral Bluff, Georgia, leaving Brauser with an alleged closed head injury and permanent knee damage. Brauser claimed one of the vehicle’s handgrips came off during a turn, and caused him to go out of control.
The defense asserted Brauser lost control because he was simply going too fast and there was no defect with the vehicle, or the handgrip. Polaris contended during the trial the handgrip, and other related handlebar components, were ripped off as the vehicle slammed into the tree and not before the accident. During a jury demonstration, Phillip Raker, a former Manager of Product Safety for Polaris, installed the actual handgrip from Brauser’s ATV on a set of handlebars to demonstrate its tight fit -- proving the handgrip could not slip off and therefore no defect. Shortly after Raker’s expert testimony, plaintiff agreed to the directed verdict. In exchange for plaintiff’s consent to the directed verdict, Polaris agreed not to seek costs or attorneys fees from plaintiff.
Attorneys for the defense were Timothy Mattson and Kevin Curry of Bowman and Brooke LLP, Minneapolis, MN and Sergio Medina of Seipp, Flick & Kissane, P.A. Miami, FL. Defense experts were Kevin Breen, Fort Meyers, FL and Phillip Raker of Roseau, MN.
Attorney for the plaintiff was Daniel G. Williams of Gordon & Doner, P.A., Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Plaintiff’s expert was Dr. Robert Wright of Granville, OH.
Ralph Brauser v. Polaris Industries Inc., and PowerSports of Boca Raton, Inc.
Circuit Court of the 15th Judicial Circuit
Palm Beach County, Florida