ATV joy ride leads to amputation, lawsuit

David Yates Apr. 18, 2007, 10:00am

Honda ATV

Back on April 17, 2005, two 11-year-old girls joy riding on a Honda ATV were struck by a pickup truck at the intersection of West Maine and Houston Street in China, Texas. Both girls were injured.

Two years later to the date, Patricia Morgan, the mother of Catherine Bland, who was a passenger on the four wheeler, is suing the ATV's preteen driver, Brantly Silcox, her family, Fritzie, Robert and David Vennebush, and the pickup truck driver, Shirley Lynn Watts.

She is also suing the company who sold the ATV, Leone's Cycle Shop, in addition to Mildred Blair for having too much foliage on her land and lastly Honda and its parent companies for manufacturing the ATV.

Morgan filed her lawsuit on April 17 with the Jefferson County District Court. Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, has been assigned to preside over the case. She is represented by two law firms, Sutton & Jacobs and Stone & Stone.

According to the plaintiff's petition, the girls were given permission by the Vennebushs to drive the ATV. They crossed the intersection going around 25 miles-per-hour and were struck by a 2004 Nissan pickup truck, forcing the ATV to veer of the road and flip over.

"Initially, Bland was partially trapped by the ATV. Her left leg was severely crushed and nearly separated below the knee," the suit said.

Bland was taken by emergency helicopter to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital, where part of her leg was amputated.

"Catherine Bland was a healthy, intelligent, spirited, athletic young girl at the time of the incident," the petition stated. "Since the removal of her lower left leg, she has been unable to participate in most of the activities that made her life full and exciting."

Morgan claims Bland was negligent for not stopping at a stop sign and for not applying the brakes in time to prevent the accident, and that her family was negligent for buying the ATV and allowing her to ride it without supervision.

She also claims Blair's property has too much thick foliage, which obscures the vision of motorists driving on the intersection in question.

Furthermore, Morgan chiefly faults Honda for marketing such dangerous vehicles to youths, while failing to equip them with adequate safety devices.

"The Honda ATV was defective and unreasonably dangerous because it was marketed without effective warnings or instructions regarding the known dangers associated with operating this machine by young, relatively small, light weight operators," the petition stated.

She is suing for her daughter's physical pain and suffering in the past and future, mental anguish in the past and future, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement in the past and future, physical impairment in the past and future, and past and future medical expenses.

Morgan is seeking unliquidated damages in an amount that is within the jurisdictional limits of the court and intends to conduct discovery under Level 3.

Case No. A179-128

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