Last month, Goodyear Tire recalled about 41,000 Wrangler Silent Armor tires made in 2009 based on concerns some could tear and lead to auto accidents. The recall comes on the heels of a fatal roll over crash in Texas involving a vehicle equipped with the tires. According to a Goodyear spokesman, there are approximately 27,000 of these tires still in service on various pickup trucks, vans and SUVs. In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Goodyear said during severe weather a small number of its Wrangler SA could experience tread separation and cause vehicle damage or a vehicle crash.
Goodyear and other tire manufacturers have faced hefty lawsuits involving serious personal injury and wrongful death for allegedly defective tires. In 2004, four people were killed in a Utah auto accident equipped with Goodyear tires. The surviving family members filed a wrongful death, product liability lawsuit alleging the deadly crash was caused by a Goodyear tire that blew out, resulting in the family van overturning on the highway. Last year, the Nevada Supreme upheld a $32.2 million dollar verdict for the family and against Goodyear.
In nearly every defective tire lawsuit alleging personal injury or wrongful death, the manufacturer will deny their tire was defective in any way. Instead, they will often argue the blowout or other tire malfunction was caused by consumer misuse. With these consumer misuse arguments, the manufacturer often argues the consumer allegedly failed to keep their tires properly inflated, improperly overloaded their vehicle, or otherwise failed to properly maintain their tires.
In general, tire manufacturers are right to stress that consumers should properly maintain their tires. Properly inflated and maintained tires will last longer and perform better. However, tire manufacturers must not be allowed to avoid responsibility when they provide consumers a defective and unreasonably dangerous tire by wrongly blaming the consumer for the manufacturer's own negligence. Indeed, it will come as no surprise if Goodyear denies any responsibility for the recent fatal Texas crash involving their recalled Wrangler SA tires. In doing so, Goodyear may try to shift responsibility to the consumer arguing the consumer failed to maintain their tires properly and that is what caused the auto accident.
Reuters, Goodyear Recalls 41,000 Wrangler Silent Armor Tires, February 25, 2012.
About Lawsuits, Goodyear Tire Blowout Verdict Lawsuit of 32.2 To Stand, January 7, 2011.