Monday, November 28, 2011

Businesses hire private investigators to trawl social media

Businesses hire private investigators to trawl social media
Published: Monday, November 28, 2011, 5:40 AM     Updated: Monday, November 28, 2011, 6:45 AM
 By Alison Grant, The Plain Dealer
     Business Wire file more than 82 percent of companies use social media to find out information about their competitors, according to a Forrester Research survey last year of more than 150 companies.

     CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The telephoto lens is still one of a private investigator's most valuable tools, but a Facebook account is becoming just as important. Especially in the business world. Increasingly, corporations are hiring private investigators to trawl social-media sites for intelligence about competitors and to watch for insider leaks, product complaints and evidence of employee misconduct.
     Investigators still use the old-fashioned ways -- snapping secret photos, slapping global positioning devices onto cars, tunneling through criminal files. But today's corporate sleuths spend more time mining the mass of information people put online about themselves.
     "We use social media primarily to research people," said Avon Lake native Kristin Wenske, an investigative analyst in New York City with Corporate Resolutions Inc., an intelligence service. Wenske's clients are mostly private-equity firms and hedge funds, and before they plow hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars into a company, they want to make sure its management team is clean.

     Private investigator Tom Pavlish of Cleveland also has been assigned to check into chief executives of companies targeted for acquisition. In one case, the CEO had a favorable public image, but research unearthed sexual harassment accusations from two sources. Pavlish's client decided not to keep the executive when the deal closed because of the potential exposure and liability if the manager repeated his conduct.

    "Remarkably, I've developed negative information even from LinkedIn references," Pavlish said.
 Spying on the other guys

     More than 82 percent of companies use social media to find out information about their competitors, according to a Forrester Research survey last year of more than 150 companies.
     Paul Baeppler, a Cleveland police sergeant who founded Integrity Investigations in Westlake, said Tweets, Facebook updates and Google searches back up classic detective work, allowing investigators "to read between the lines and see what's not actually there and using that as a lead into something more concrete."

     At Corporate Resolutions, Wenske uses social media to look for illegal activity, undisclosed business interests and resume puffing. For one client who needed help collecting money from a businessman who pleaded poverty, Corporate Resolutions' cyber-search showed the businessman was hiding assets. The businessman's son posted comments on about hanging out at his dad's place in the Caribbean, with photos of the property.  "Based on these comments we extended our asset search to the Caribbean," Wenske said.

     The hazards of an accidental online disclosure also tripped up Hewlett-Packard Co. this year when a vice president mentioned the computer maker's new web-storage initiative on his LinkedIn profile. Business rivals got a look at previously secret details of the company's cloud-computing services.

     Kroll Inc., an international firm, has a reputation as Wall Street's private eye because of the agency's corporate espionage. Social media is a tool that only gets better as it gets more robust, said Peter Turecek, Kroll's senior managing director of business intelligence and investigations. Kroll builds profiles of executives in prospective deals, "where we hope the person is good and angelic," Turecek said. Fraud investigations look at the modus operandi of suspects. Have they done this before? How did they do it? Who in their network may be in on it?

    When one client asked Kroll to investigate an intellectual-property breach, the company used photos posted on Twitter -- shot from the rooftop of a New York City building -- to determine the address of the suspect's apartment.

    In another investigation, Kroll used LinkedIn and Facebook to establish connections between a vendor and an employee who may have embezzled company money.

     "Not too long ago it was very difficult to try to ascertain who someone's network or associates were without doing a lot of data mining and even surveillance, which is fairly labor intensive and therefore costly," Turecek said. Mario Zelaya of Majesetic Media in Toronto said he and his partners were shocked to learn how easily they were able to spy on a competitor. By blending information from Google, Facebook, Twitter and geolocation sites FourSquare and Gowalla, Majestic Media identified which clients the competitor's salespeople spoke with and what potential deals were occurring. It would have been quite possible to phone the clients and confirm the hunches -- and possibly disrupt ongoing negotiations if contracts weren't signed, Zelaya said. That's why he considers such tactics unethical. He said his experiment was meant only as a cautionary lesson about posting sensitive information online.

 'You want to avoid surprises'

     Jim Silvania, owner of Silvania Investigative Services in Columbus, has used social media to check the financial strength of people who wanted to invest in a client's business; to see who was responsible for giving business secrets to a competitor; and to investigate a violent employee who turned out to be a member of the American Nazi Party, posing in an Internet photo with a rifle in his arms and a swastika. "They provided extra security when they did the termination," Silvania said.
     The Cleveland law office of Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur has hired investigators to find out more about a company or its executives when there were reasons to be "abundantly prudent," partner Michael Ellis said. "You try to gather as much information about the other side, good and bad, as you can. You want to avoid surprises," he said.

    As the effect of social media becomes more intense, companies have begun monitoring what's being said about them online -- and trying to manage their Internet footprint.

     In a warren of cubicles at SP Data's U.S. headquarters in Tower City, many of the office's 225 employees track what is being said about SP Data's customers on social media, blogs and opinion sites. Online chatter about a company or its products that is positive might prompt an SP Data employee to re-Tweet the comment or respond to the writer with a thank you. When the sentiment is negative, the poster might get a response through the same online site, or by phone or email. "Only 5 percent of posts ever made about a company are responded to," said Daniel Bemis, president of SP Data. "It should be commonplace." Inc., based in Redwood City, Calif., helps businesses promote themselves on the web. Chief Executive Michael Fertick advises businesses to start by understanding how they're perceived online. Does 50 Likes on Facebook mean anything? Does the fact that people are mentioning you once a week on Twitter mean anything? How does that compare with other businesses in your field? says there's a way to put the Internet genie back in the bottle: Once a company has a handle on its image, it can start to manage it. The firm has made "millions of observations" about the secret rules of Google, Fertick said, to figure out how to shuffle postings about a company to put it in the best light. As for web monitoring for competitive business intelligence, Fertik figures it's in its infancy.

    A single Fortune 500 business might be mentioned dozens or hundreds of times a day online -- a mountain of traffic to analyze. So is designing software that understands human language enough to sift for positive and negative sentiment. The computer analytics are daunting. "We've worked on it for 4½ years," Fertik said.

    But when it comes to human investigators sniffing the Internet for specific companies or employees, the hunt for fertile tidbits is in full swing. "Every day, in a multitude of ways, in social networks," Silvania said, "it's out there."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teacher, aide bullied student, 14

 This was our case:

Teacher, aide bullied student, 14

WASHINGTON C.H., Ohio — A Fayette County school district has agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of a 14-year-old special-needs student who was ridiculed last spring — on tape — by her teacher and a classroom aide.

The Miami Trace Local School District also says it will abide by a state-brokered agreement that places the teacher, a licensed intervention specialist, on what amounts to probation and requires her to complete eight hours of training in how to recognize child abuse and stop bullying.
The teacher, Christie J. Wilt, 30, “engaged in conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession when she made inappropriate comments to a student with disabilities and allowed a co-worker to make inappropriate comments to a student with disabilities,” according to a consent agreement signed last month by Wilt and Stan Heffner, the state’s superintendent of public instruction.

The classroom aide, Kelly L. Chaffins, 46, who had worked at Miami Trace Middle School since August 2008, was asked to resign by the district after her comments came to light.

Wilt’s and Chaffins’ remarks were made over a four-day period in April and captured on a tape recorder that the student’s mother had hidden on her daughter after hearing her complain about her treatment at school.
The girl, now a freshman at Miami Trace High School, told WBNS-TV (Channel 10) last week that the comments made her “pretty sad.”
Miami Trace Superintendent Dan Roberts said district officials were “distressed, very upset and angered by what was on those tapes.”
Daniel R. Mordarski, a Columbus attorney representing the student and her family, said Miami Trace officials should have fired Wilt, a teacher there since August 2007, as soon as they heard the comments.
“What’s shocking to me is that there is one teacher that is still employed by the district,” he said.
In one of the recordings made in April, Chaffins can be heard asking the student why she said she didn’t know the answer to a question.

“Because I didn’t know,” the student said.
“Are you kidding me?” the aide said. “Are you that damn dumb? You are that dumb? ... Oh, my God. You are such a liar.”
“I am not lying,” the student said.
“No wonder you don’t have friends,” Chaffins said. “No wonder nobody likes you.”
On another occasion, Wilt and Chaffins teased the student about her body.
“Don’t you want to do something about that belly?” Chaffins said.
“Yes,” the girl said.
“Well, evidently you don’t, because you don’t do anything at home,” the aide said. “You sit at home and watch TV.”
Another time, after the student failed to answer a question correctly, Wilt ordered her to climb onto an exercise treadmill, which was in the classroom to help “refocus” special-needs students, district officials said later.
The recordings suggest that the student spent more than 15 minutes on the treadmill — with the speed steadily increasing. Eventually, the treadmill stopped working, and the girl was told to run in place.
When the girl’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend complained about that incident and the comments, Chaffins said they were “liars raising a liar.” That remark also was recorded.
An initial investigation by Roberts found no inappropriate conduct by Wilt or Chaffins. In fact, in an email, the superintendent said the accusations were “bordering on slander and harassment."
Only after he was presented with the recordings did Roberts change his mind.
“When we found audio proof, we acted immediately,” he said.
District officials demanded — and received — Chaffins’ resignation. She was making $16,132 a year, school records show.

They did not, however, seek Wilt’s resignation. She is paid $41,292 a year.
“We felt that the level of her involvement there did not meet what the educational aide had done,” Roberts said.

However, district officials did forward the matter to the Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct and promised to comply with the agency’s disciplinary findings.
Under the resulting agreement, which Heffner signed Oct. 31, Wilt will be suspended if she fails to complete the anti-bullying training by June 1 or engages in any other “unbecoming conduct.”
Wilt declined to comment, and Chaffins could not be located.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

“Forty-eight Hours in Portsmouth"

“Forty-eight Hours in Portsmouth”
By: Jim Silvania

          To most, if not all, homicide investigators the first 48 hours of any homicide investigation is the most crucial or critical time period of that investigation.  That’s the reason that CBS Television named its reality crime show,“48 Hours” and A&E has “The First 48”.  But, as the majority of Ohioans know, Portsmouth is a place where time stands still.
          On March 19th of this year the Portsmouth Fire Department responded to a fire at an Edendale Rd. address and as fireman do, they put out the fire.  It was not until 72 hours later that authorities received a call from one of the persons of interest that there was a body inside the burnt out rubble. Apparently to be a Portsmouth Fireman, you don’t have to pass a vision test.
          After the belated discovery of the deceased victim the investigation began, or sort of.  Portsmouth is the only city in Ohio where the fire department conducts homicide investigations if they are fire related. Firemen, in most cases, are very good at what they do…put out fires. It is law enforcement’s job to investigate homicides, just not in Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth Fire Department was wise enough to call in an investigator from the State Fire Marshall’s office but he again is not a homicide investigator.  He is a cause & origin expert who ruled the fire incendiary with probable cause to believe it’s victim’s death was the result of a homicide.    
          Crime scene experts where then called in to gather evidence and DNA was submitted to BCI&I for analysis and the victim’s body was shipped off to Montgomery County for an autopsy.
          One of the campaign ploys forwarded by now Attorney General Mike DeWine was that DNA results would no longer take BCI&I months to be analyzed and returned to local law enforcement.  DeWine was elected Attorney General, but…
          3048 hours after the body’s discovery and DNA Collection, BCI&I released their DNA results and the Scioto county corner the death certificate stating that the victim was alive when the fire was started.
          Now, some 5,232 hours after the body’s discovery the homicide investigation appears to be going nowhere. During this time period the Portsmouth Fire & Police Department as well as the Scioto County Sheriff’s Department were offered “free” technical expert assistance into the death of Jason Moore but those offers all fell upon deaf ears.
          Anyone who watches any detective show on television knows that it is the homicide detective who speaks for the dead, no matter who they are, but in this case the only words coming from Jason Moore are “If you want to commit a homicide in Ohio just bring the body to Portsmouth and light a match”.
          The Obama Administration has just rewarded $100,000 of taxpayer’s monies, my money, to Scioto County to help curb the problems associated with drug abuse.  This comes a little late for Jason Moore. 
          You can throw all the money in the world into Scioto County but it’s not until law enforcement in that county enters the 21st century will any progress be made.

Friday, October 14, 2011

OH Dept of Public Safety Lawyer Faces Public Reprimand

Lawyer faces public reprimand

  • Joshua Engel pleaded guilty last October to three misdemeanors in the email case.

The Columbus Dispatch Thursday October 13, 2011 7:52 AM

Joshua Engel, former top lawyer for the Ohio Department of Public Safety, should get a public reprimand for illegally intercepting all agency emails for several months, a state panel has recommended.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline rejected the court disciplinary counsel’s push for a six-month suspended sentence of Engel’s law license. Instead, the panel said Tuesday that the Harvard-educated lawyer lacked a “dishonest or selfish motive” in intercepting emails between the Ohio inspector general or The Dispatch and anyone in the agency.

Although he secretly obtained confidential material, including inspector-general probes and federal criminal and grand-jury investigations, no one was harmed by the electronic “bug” but Engel himself, the commissioners determined. The panel cited an Engel character witness who said his ethics “are above reproach” and that he is “an extraordinarily caring and competent attorney.”

Commissioners acknowledged he should have had the email filter removed when he first got confidential material, but they said ongoing battles within and without the agency distracted him.
“The panel believes the stress of the ‘turf war’ undoubtedly obscured his focus. We believe it was not his knowing intent to ‘trap’ confidential information.”

And the board also noted, “His personal suffering, beginning with job-related stress in 2008, and as exacerbated by both criminal and disciplinary proceedings, have resulted in severe depression and suicidal thoughts. We note that he voluntarily sought psychiatric care and psychological counseling before being terminated from his position at DPS in late 2010.”

The board pointed out that former Gov. Bob Taft also was given a public reprimand in 2006 after he was found guilty of four misdemeanor ethics charges.

Last October, Engel was fined $750 and given a 30-day suspended jail sentence for each of three misdemeanors.
A technologies manager who obeyed Engel’s request to install the email filter was suspended but returned to work after receiving a written reprimand. Another department lawyer resigned for collaborating with Engel.

Engel’s attorney, Larry James of Columbus, told the panel, “The mistake made by (Engel) could have happened to anyone” as he tried to pursue the source of leaks from the department.
The recommendation now goes to the Supreme Court for final action.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dealing with the Paranoid Schizophrenic Client

Dealing with the Paranoid Schizophrenic Client By: Jim Silvania

We’ve all had them but what do we do with them? This is not something we learned in kindergarten.

My experience with this situation is that they were good paying professional individuals who you try to assist until you realize that something is definitely wrong.

            Schizophrenia is a group of severe brain disorders in which people interpret reality abnormally. Contrary to some popular belief, schizophrenia isn't split personality or multiple personality. The word "schizophrenia" does mean "split mind," but it refers to a disruption of the usual balance of emotions and thinking. (1). It is an illness that affects well over 2 million American adults, which is about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older. (2)

 Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common type of schizophrenia. Around 40 percent of people who are schizophrenic suffer the paranoid type. In paranoid schizophrenia, delusions are often focused on the perception that you're being singled out for harm. Your brain misinterprets experiences and you hold on to these false beliefs despite evidence to the contrary.(3) No matter what evidence you find to the contrary a paranoid schizophrenic is not going to believe you, so don’t even try.

  For instance, they may believe that the government or a competitor is monitoring their every move; their being stalked.  In such matters you may have been hired to find the “boogie man”, “secret agent” or the alleged perpetrator of the delusions. The delusional content (the beliefs) of a paranoid schizophrenia are marked by grandiosity, or persecution, or both. Anger, irritation or argumentative behavior may be the most prominent features, as is extreme jealousy. These delusions can result in aggression or violence if they believe they must act in self-defense. (3)

            Russell Crowe's portrayal of the esteemed mathematician Dr. John Forbes Nash in, ‘A Beautiful Mind' (2001) provides a dramatized example of the above. In the movie we see the world through the eyes of Dr. Nash as he is approached by an agent to help in the decoding of sophisticated secret transmissions. We are drawn into thinking that Dr. Nash has a special ability to see secret codes where others cannot. His covert work is apparently fraught with danger as he is chased by foreign agents intent on doing him harm, but he must continue as a matter of national security.  At movies end we understand that the agent with whom Dr. Nash has been working and other significant people in his life are all hallucinations. (3) What if Dr. Nash had hire you? At what point do you open your eyes to the reality of it all and what do you do about it?

My first learning experience resulted from a call from a law firm to assist one of their major business clients. It was alleged, by the client, that his business had been burglarized by a competitor.  First question to arise: no forced entry; ok then it must have been an inside job. Second question: nothing was missing. The client next alleged that he was been watched at night from the field behind his house: a herd of deer. The delusions and hallucination worsened to the point that we felt his children were in danger. Working with the local police, who had a previous history with the client, we had him committed on an emergency bases.  Lesson learned: never have clients committed before they pay their bill. 
Dealing with a paranoid schizophrenic can be extremely frustrating. It is difficult to know what to say and/or do. Here are some tips for a private investigator that comes in contact with a paranoid schizophrenic who is actively suffering:
·         It can be helpful to stand side by side rather than directly face a paranoid schizophrenic.
·         Also avoid direct eye contact, as this increases their paranoia.
·         Do not fight with them or contradict their radical views. Show understanding and compassion when they vocalize their mistrust of the world.
·         Temporarily accept their reality as reality.
·         Never criticize by saying:  "Don’t be so paranoid!"
·         Realize that they have tunnel vision and can only see their point of view.
·         Accept that the person may truly feel they are not sick and do not need help.(2)
·         Most importantly “Do no harm” and remember they can only be committed against their will if they are declared a danger to themselves or others.
            How do you ethically deal with these situations? Private Investigators are bred to help people solve their problems but helping someone who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia is not in our skill level and extremely difficult even for health care professionals. But what responsibility do we have once we’ve taken on this individual as a client?  First you will never convince your client to seek professional help. In fact once you suggest professional help you become the enemy, part of the conspiracy that’s out to get them.  To them you must be incompetent because you don’t see the forest for the trees; you can’t find their “boogie man” or bring about a resolve to the reason you’ve been hired.

            In Ohio, where I practice my trade, Private Investigators are governed by Ohio Revised Code #4749; 4749.13(B)(3) states: “No person shall divulge any information acquired from or for a client to persons other than the client or the client’s authorized agent without express authorization to do so or unless required by law”. So do you risk violating the law in order to gain assistance for your client?

             Laws vary from state to state but when a person becomes dangerous to himself or herself, or to others, you may be forced to disregard any confidentiality agreement.  You are the professional investigator.  Your investigation now turns from your client’s needs to your own needs and protection. One should learn the professional agencies in one’s community should you ever find yourself dealing with the paranoid schizophrenic client. Some other hints:

1.      Finding a sympatric relative willing to do the right thing is a God sent.
2.      Many police departments have professional psychologist on staff that might be able to provide some insight and guidance.
3.      Check with the police precinct supervisor to see if they are familiar with the individual or their address.
4.      Call the county or city health department or any past medical professional who may have previously dealt with your client.
5.      Document your every move as you may someday be explaining it to a jury.  It’s better to have tried and failed than to not have tried at all. 



1.  12/02/2010
2.   12/02/2010
3.  12/02/2010

Jim Silvania, CLI & CFE, the owner of Silvania Investigative Services, has been conducting investigations through Ohio for the past 43 years. Web page:, email:

Friday, April 15, 2011

$5 million of terror grant was misused by the Ohio Association of Chief's of Police

$5 million of terror grant was misused by police chiefs groug

Dublin-based organization must return money

Friday, April 15, 2011  03:06 AM


An eight-month federal Homeland Security audit has confirmed that the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police mismanaged and misspent almost $5 million in federal grants designed to develop a statewide police network to help fight terrorism and other crime.

Questionable expenses included sending 20 Ohio police officials to Turkey and more than $800,000 in bonuses paid to the executive director of the Dublin-based association.
While the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network is in operation today, and has been credited with helping statewide police agencies fight crime, its cost has been questioned.
The nonprofit association received about $21 million in Law Enforcement Terrorist Prevention Program grants from 2004 to 2006. Almost a quarter of that must now be returned to the federal government, even though it has been spent.

Advertising and program and membership fees remain existing sources of revenue for the group.
According to the report, released to the Ohio Department of Public Safety this week, more than $4.8 million in expenditures "were unallowable because they were unrelated to the grant activity, misclassified, outside the period of performance, or not supported by receipts or invoices."

The Ohio Emergency Management Agency, which was responsible for monitoring how the federal money was spent, was found "severely lacking" in its record-keeping and oversight, according to the audit.
The Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state EMA and has ultimate authority over the project, is responsible for returning the money if it can't justify the expenditures within the next three months.
"We're going to try to work with the OACP and try to find records to mitigate some of this," said Joe Andrews, department spokesman. "They didn't document it properly, and we didn't police it properly."
Andrews did not know how much of the spending could be verified.
About $227,000 was improperly used to send the Ohio police officials to Turkey to learn about terrorism. More than $180,000 was misspent on slick books and brochures about the project, award plaques and lapel pins that were not related to the grant objective. And more than $800,000 was given to the association's executive director in bonuses that were "unreasonable, unallowable, and inconsistent with grant guidance," according to the federal audit. In addition, of 832 timesheets required to verify salaries and wages during the three grant years, only 85 were documented.

The chiefs association, made up of police officials from departments across the state, was run by a professional association manager, Todd Wurschmidt, and a board of directors, mostly police chiefs.
Wurschmidt's website states the money he brought in "demonstrates Dr. Wurschmidt's fundraising prowess." He could not be reached for comment.

The federal government's analysis agrees with a similar study by local accounting firm Crowe Howath, retained by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency after questions arose in 2005 about questionable spending.

"We are going to work very closely to make an answer to this report," said OACP board president and Ada Police Chief Michael A. Harnishfeger. "That's the most prudent thing we can do right now."
Harnishfeger said all vendors have been compensated for work performed after the federal money stopped flowing into the association.

The ordeal has been trying for the association, but the network's value has been worth it, he said.
"For the first time ever, local law enforcement is able to share internal reports on very important matters that they previously were unable to share."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jury rules in ATV death case

Jury rules in ATV death case
6:35 PM, Mar. 21, 2011    

Written by

LEBANON - Warren County’s largest civil lawsuit – a wrongful-death case seeking $20 million – ended with a mixed verdict that means no money will be awarded to the parents of a dead 10-year-old girl. After deliberating about 12 hours, a Warren County jury Monday declared an all-terrrain vehicle was defective, as John and Tammie Sand of Lebanon had claimed. But the jury decided the ATV was not the “proximate cause” of the death of the Sands’ daughter, Ellie, after she went riding on a Yamaha Rhino 660 ATV in 2007.

Yamaha issued a news release declaring the verdict a victory: “This verdict in favor of Yamaha marks the sixth time overall that a jury has rejected plaintiffs’ claims regarding the Rhino.”

The company is facing hundreds of lawsuits similar to this one across the nation, though many have been consolidated into group actions filed in federal courts, said Michael Roberts, a lawyer for the Sands.
He said the jury’s verdict wasn’t a total victory for the manufacturer.
“It’s significant that a jury found the product defective despite Yamaha’s extensive arguments to the contrary,” Roberts said. “The jury concluded that ‘Your product’s defective, Yamaha, but we think that Nils’ driving was more defective,’” referring to Nils McElroy, the 21-year-old Midland, Ohio, man who was driving the ATV. 

McElroy pleaded guilty to a negligence charge of vehicular homicide. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 90 days in jail.

While pleased with the “defective” ruling, the Sands’ are “disappointed that people who had no knowledge of the defect were more responsible for Ellie’s death,” Roberts said. 

Ellie was the front passenger on the ATV on Oct. 27, 2007, when it flipped and pinned her to the ground during a church picnic in Oregonia. None of the five occupants wore helmets; it was uncertain whether Ellie wore a seat belt.

“Drivers and passengers should at all times wear helmets, protective gear and the vehicle’s three-point seat belts,” the company said, calling the Rhino “a safe and useful off-road vehicle when driven responsibly.”

“The testimony and evidence during the trial showed that this tragic incident had nothing to do with the design of the product, and underscores the importance of following the safety recommendations on our products and in the owner’s manual,” the company’s news release said.
Meanwhile, Ellie’s parents remain committed to work with industry groups and the Consumer Product Safety Commission “to get this thing fixed,” Roberts said.

Since Yamaha made some changes in the vehicle’s design, including widening its wheel base, there had been no deaths reported on the revamped Rhino, Roberts said. But on earlier models, there were at least 1,300 reported injuries and 95 deaths, Roberts said. Evidence rules prevented jurors from knowing about the deaths that happened after Ellie’s. She was the 28th person to die after riding a Rhino, Roberts said.

“Evidence rules were applied properly by the judge but it’s just unfortunate that the jury didn’t get to know everything,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he and his clients are exploring whether they have any other options, including an appeal. At one point during the trial, Judge James Flannery chastized Yamaha for using a private court reporter to provide transcripts to the company’s witnesses, despite a “separation of witnesses order” designed to prevent witnesses’ testimony from being affected by other witnesses’ statements, Roberts said.