Move to take exploding ATV suit out of St. Clair County set for hearing

Amelia Flood May 25, 2011, 8:44am

Van Court

The makers of Yamaha ATVs will ask St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson May 31 to send a suit over an exploding gas tank to Washington or another county.

Plaintiff Faith Ahlers is suing Yamaha Motor Corp. USA and Yamaha Motor Co. of Japan along with Sam White and Patty Loos for damages in excess of $50,000 per count and other relief.

Ahlers, a Minnesota resident, claims her son, Jordan Kepmfer, was injured when the gas tank of a Yamaha ATV he was riding exploded in August 2010.

The ATV was owned by White and Loos, both residents of Coulterville, Ill.

Ahlers claims her son was severely burned and disfigured in the accident.

She alleges that the ATV was one targeted in a "slow recall" and that the ATV boiled gas inside of its tank, causing the explosion.

She contends that White and Loos were negligent in allowing a minor to ride their ATV.

Yamaha moved to transfer the case to Washington or Perry County Dec. 28, 2010.

In the motion, the company alleges that neither the plaintiff, her son, nor the other defendants reside in St. Clair County.

Yamaha argues the plaintiff has not pled that the injuries occurred in St. Clair County and that the forum is inconvenient.

In the plaintiff's response, Ahlers argues that moving the case to either Washington or Randolph County would delay the case.

"As the Court is well aware St. Clair County judges can move cases at a greater pace than those in Randolph and Washington County because St. Clair County judges specialize and are assigned certain types of cases," Ahlers response reads. "Judges in Randolph County and Washington County often hear every case that comes to the courthouse. Counsel for plaintiff has personally experienced waiting extended periods of time for motion hearings in Chester, Illinois while the Court addressed small claims, traffic, and the Court's criminal docket."

It is unclear whether Randolph County is the intended venue possibility or if Perry County, as named in the initial filing, would be the alternative to Washington County.

Tuesday's motion hearing is set to begin at 9 a.m.

James Williams represents the plaintiff.

Kurt Reitz represents Yamaha.

Rebecca Van Court represents Loos and White.

The case is St. Clair case number 10-L-442.

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