A Texas jury on Feb. 25, 2019, handed down a state-record $33 million defective product wrongful death award to the family of a man who died in a head-on collision blamed on a blown-out tire. Goodyear Tire & Rubber is on the hook for the judgment, and the tire that lost its tread, a G286A Super Single Tire model, was tracked back to a manufacturing plant in Danville, Virginia (VA).
Key to the plaintiff’s case was testimony from five workers from the Danville plant who testified that conditions and materials were substandard. These witnesses described using old rubber, skipping safety and quality inspections, and failing to stop water from leaking into equipment. Frequently reported problems went unaddressed by management.
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The attorneys who represented the deceased man’s estate issued this statement shortly after winning the case:
The Danville Virginia Goodyear manufacturing plant is notorious for putting rapid production before workplace safety and quality control. The tire that detreaded, causing a cement truck to lose control and crash into Ramiro Munoz, was manufactured at the Danville plant. In our analysis, we found the failed tire’s problems were numerous and included adhesion defects and off-center, wrong-sized steel belts. Tread separation and the loss of vehicular control is the result of shoddy manufacturing.”
My Virginia-based wrongful death law firm colleagues and I appreciate the diligent investigations and skillful courtroom performance of the Ammons Law Firm. Companies that knowingly manufacture and sell products that endanger consumers’ lives must be held accountable.
Car and truck tires are particularly prone to catastrophic failure. Making a quality tire that is capable of withstanding the years of hard use vehicle operators demand is, admittedly, difficult. Difficulties, however, do not excuse taking shortcuts or ignoring safeguards. When a defective tire hits the road, it can be just a matter of time before a disabling or deadly crash occurs.
Now, vehicle owners do have legal duties to ensure their car and truck tires are structurally sound and replaced as needed. The problem with this case in Texas, and in too many other accidents, is that no degree of responsibility by the trucking company that used Goodyear’s defective tire would have made anyone safer. The tire was a literal bomb waiting to go off. We are pleased that jurors recognized this.