Honda Motor Co. Ltd. of Japan will appeal a $5.9 million judgment awarded a Salem man who was injured while riding a Honda three-wheel all-terrain vehicle, a spokesman said Saturday.
A Multnomah County Circuit Court Jury awarded damages Friday for Karl Oberg, 24, who attorneys said is believed to be the recipient of the largest punitive-damage award ever in cases involving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).Honda's all-terrain vehicle has been banned from sale in the United States since March 1988, when the U.S. government filed suits charging the vehicles had design flaws that made them dangerous.
"Honda is extremely disappointed in the verdict and believes it is excessive and unwarranted," said Kurt Antonius , a spokesman for American Honda Motor Co. Inc. of Gardena, Calif. "We will pursue all of the appropriate legal remedies, including appeal."
Oberg suffered facial fractures and other injuries in 1985 when the ATV he was riding overturned.
The decision against Honda Motor Co. and subsidiaries American Honda Motor and Honda Research and Development of Japan included $900,000 in general damages and a punitive award of $5 million.
Oberg is the first plaintiff in an all-terrain vehicle suit against Honda to win punitive damages, Antonius said.
Attorney William Gaylord, who represented Oberg, said, "I think the jury was saying to Honda, `Your conduct in this case, in refusing to recognize the growing evidence of problems with these vehicles, is simply not responsible corporate conduct."'
Ramond Thomas, another attorney for Oberg, said 66,000 people had been injured on the vehicles in the United States by 1984, but Honda made no changes in the ATVs.