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U.S. District Court, Connecticut

This action arose out of a single vehicle accident involving the 19-year-old male plaintiff who was operating his ________ Honda ATV 200X all-terrain vehicle on an off-road trail when the vehicle rolled over onto its side. The plaintiff was injured when a stick from an adjacent brush pierced his eye socket and penetrated the back of his skull. The plaintiff lost his eye and suffers from permanent brain damage as a result of the injury. The case was trifurcated with the issue of whether the accident occurred on the ATV tried first.

The subject accident allegedly occurred on December 20, ________, while the plaintiff was riding the ATV 200X on a trail located in the woods of Naugatuck, Ct. The plaintiff contended that as he attempted to complete a counterclockwise U-turn, the ATV unexpectedly rolled onto its side. The plaintiff additionally alleged that he was thrown into some brush which was lining the side of the trail whereupon a stick pierced his eye socket, penetrating his brain. The plaintiff alleged that following the accident, he either walked or rode the ATV vehicle back to his fiance’s house where he then collapsed.

The plaintiff alleged that the ATV was defectively designed p 7 3 because the center of gravity was too high and because it lacked a differential axle, subjecting the vehicle to a high rollover propensity. The plaintiff additionally claimed that the warnings provided with the vehicle were inadequate.

The defendant disputed the plaintiff’s version of the accident, maintaining that the plaintiff was not injured as a result of an ATV roll-over. The defendant pointed to evidence indicating that the wood removed from the plaintiff’s brain was tested and determined to be from a manufacturing dowel, coated with polyurethane and a variety of wood that grows only in the orient.

The defendant offered additional evidence that the plaintiff had told medical care providers that he was stabbed during an altercation. The defendant further argued that the plaintiff could not possibly have traveled a one-half mile distance from the alleged accident scene to his fiancee’s house with the injury he suffered and the defendant presented expert testimony to support this position.

On the issue of damages, the plaintiff was prepared to present evidence that several years after the accident, the plaintiff underwent surgery to remove the remnants of the stick from his brain. The plaintiff has suffered the loss of his left eye and has residual neurologic deficits, including difficulty speaking, cognitive deficits and paraparesis.

Following the first phase of the trial, the jury determined that the plaintiff’s injury had not occurred due to an ATV rollover. A verdict for the defendant was entered accordingly.

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