A Michigan jury has awarded $16 million to an Indiana man in his case against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The Plaintiff was rendered quadriplegic after a tire tread separated causing him to crash his vehicle. The jury found that the man’s injuries were caused by the company’s negligence.
The jury in Berrien County, Mich., returned the verdict in favor of Plaintiff Harishkumar Patel. The jurors heard evidence during the trial that Goodyear reduced quality control inspections as it ramped up production. The jurors also heard that the company decided not to put a nylon cap ply on the tire that could have prevented the tread separation. Craig Hilborn, one of the Plaintiff’s lawyers, said in a written statement:
They [Goodyear] decided to roll the dice with the lives of consumers to save a few pennies of profit. It was morally wrong and the wrong business decision.
The crash occurred on July 6, 2012. The Plaintiff was driving his 1998 Nissan Pathfinder north on U.S. Highway 31 in Berrien Springs, Mich., when the tire tread separated, causing the vehicle to rollover and crash. The tire still had half of its tread life left and was perfectly maintained when it disintegrated, Mr. Hilborn told Law360 in an interview. In addition, he said company employees at the plant in Fayetteville, N.C., became so frustrated when managers put defective tires back on the line that they came up with the mocking motto, “round and black and out the back.” The tire was made at a Goodyear factory in Fayetteville, N.C.
As part of the $16-million verdict, jurors awarded $3 million for past pain and suffering and $5.7 million for future pain and suffering. However, Michigan law currently caps noneconomic damages for product liability cases at $795,000, according to Mr. Hilborn. The Plaintiff is represented by Craig Hilborn and Kevin Riddle of Hilborn & Hilborn PC; John Gsanger of The Edwards Law Firm; and Barry Conybeare. These lawyers did a very good job in the case, which was tried in the Michigan Circuit Court for the County of Berrien.