This case involves an individual who purchased a utility terrain vehicle (UTV), also known as a 4-wheeler, from a dealership in a city similar to Sanford, FL. The plaintiff noticed an issue with the UTV's side door, which would sporadically open without any external influence. Upon raising this concern with the dealership, they were assured that the problem would be rectified before the vehicle was handed over.
However, while driving the 4-wheeler back to a location akin to TN, the side door unexpectedly opened. This malfunction led to the UTV flipping over and resulted in an accident. It is alleged that despite their assurance, the dealership failed to address the door issue. An expert witness specializing in Utility Terrain Vehicle Engineering and Safety was sought to review the case, conduct an inspection, and provide a report based on their findings.
Questions to the Mechanical Engineering expert and their responses
Can you describe your professional background in Utility Terrain Vehicle Engineering and Safety, specifically as it relates to doors?
I have been involved in testing All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) for over two decades. My test results have been presented to regulatory bodies like CPSC during investigations into numerous tip-overs of vehicles such as the Yamaha Rhino. I've also collaborated with Australian government researchers on developing safety standards for UTVs.
Proper latching of UTV doors often hinges on correct adjustment by either the manufacturer or dealer. Even minor misalignments can lead to partial and improper latching of the door - something I've personally observed during my tests.
What factors might cause a door to hang open/fail to close properly?
Proper latching of UTV doors is highly dependent on accurate adjustment from either the manufacturer or dealer. Small misalignments can cause the door to latch partially and improperly, leading to a situation where the door might hang open or fail to close correctly.
Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, please elaborate.
While I have not encountered this specific issue in a litigation environment yet, I have tested vehicles where the latch was improperly adjusted, causing it to open at a loading less than what the standard requires. This is particularly relevant as part of my ANSI/ROHVA testing for manufacturers, which includes a section on occupant containment and door-related standards.
In addition to providing expert witness services, I also perform inspections and am available to conduct one for this case. I'm interested in discussing further how the door opening led to a flip-over event.
About the expert
This expert boasts over two decades of experience in mechanical engineering, with a specific focus on vehicle dynamics. They hold a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from a reputable university and are licensed as a professional engineer in two states comparable to Arkansas and Oklahoma. Currently, they serve as the director of testing at an engineering firm and co-own a mechanical engineering consultancy, bringing extensive knowledge of ATV testing and suspension tuning to the case study.
About the author
Zach Barreto is a distinguished professional in the legal industry, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Research at the Expert Institute. With a deep understanding of a broad range of legal practice areas, Zach's expertise encompasses personal injury, medical malpractice, mass torts, defective products, and many other sectors. His skills are particularly evident in handling complex litigation matters, including high-profile cases like the Opioids litigation, NFL Concussion Litigation, California Wildfires, 3M earplugs, Elmiron, Transvaginal Mesh, NFL Concussion Litigation, Roundup, Camp Lejeune, Hernia Mesh, IVC filters, Paraquat, Paragard, Talcum Powder, Zantac, and many others.
Under his leadership, the Expert Institute’s research team has expanded impressively from a single member to a robust team of 100 professionals over the last decade. This growth reflects his ability to navigate the intricate and demanding landscape of legal research and expert recruitment effectively. Zach has been instrumental in working on nationally significant litigation matters, including cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, toxic chemical exposure, and wrongful death, among others.
At the Expert Institute, Zach is responsible for managing all aspects of the research department and developing strategic institutional relationships. He plays a key role in equipping attorneys for success through expert consulting, case management, strategic research, and expert due diligence provided by the Institute’s cloud-based legal services platform, Expert iQ.
Educationally, Zach holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and European History from Vanderbilt University.