A Montgomery County jury awarded $4 million in favor of Carolyn Thorne against Wal-Mart Corporation. Mrs. Thorne was severely injured and paralyzed in a car accident shortly after having her car serviced at Wal-Mart. Mrs. Thorne’s Ford Expedition went out of control when the tread on one of her tires separated. She is paralyzed as a result of the accident. According to Greg Allen, one of the attorneys for Mrs. Thorne, “Mrs. Thorne was doing everything she should have done. She regularly had her car serviced at the Wal-Mart store, where they checked the tires. The car was serviced on nine different occasions after Wal-Mart had been made aware that the tire was recalled. She actually had the Expedition serviced one week before the accident. The technicians failed to realize that the tire was separating even though the evidence was undisputed that a bulge would have been apparent if the servicemen had simply looked. The Wal-Mart serviceman testified that they were not trained to look for tire problems.”
Mrs. Thorne had a service contract on her tires with Wal-Mart. It was discovered during the course of this lawsuit that Wal-Mart has a policy not to disclose recalls on tires unless Wal-Mart sold the tire. According to Mr. Allen, “Continental Tire Corporation knew that they had a defective tire and wanted to try to get all of those tires off the market. Continental had representatives that testified at trial that Wal-Mart was a Continental Tire dealer and was notified of the recall to try to remove the defective tires from vehicles serviced at Wal-Mart.” Mrs. Thorne settled cases against Continental Tire Company of North America, Sonic Automotive, also known as Friendly Ford, and Ford Motor Company on the eve of trial. Wal-Mart Corporation refused to resolve the claims.
According to Mr. Allen, “It is hoped that this jury award will encourage Wal-Mart to change its policy of not notifying their customers of recalled tires. It is also hoped that Wal-Mart will re-evaluate its policy on tire inspections. Wal-Mart has misled their customers into thinking that they were receiving tire safety service. Now they will actually have to start performing tire inspections to protect their customers and the public. Currently, they lead their customers to believe that they are actually getting tire inspections when they are not.”