A Texas jury found Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., liable for $33 million in a case brought by the family of a man killed in a 2013 crash with a cement truck that sped out of control because of an allegedly defective tire.
Ramiro Munoz, a teacher, community leader, and City Manager of Carrizo Springs, Texas, was killed when a cement truck belonging to DGJ Transport Inc. experienced a tire failure that sent the heavy truck colliding into his vehicle. His surviving wife, Elvia, and two children filed the lawsuit against Goodyear after investigators found the cement truck’s Goodyear tire experienced a tread separation that caused the driver to lose control.
The tire at the center of the case, a Goodyear G286A “Super Single” heavy truck tire, was made by in 2009 at Goodyear’s Dansville, Virginia plant, court records showed, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
During the three-week trial, lawyers for the Munoz family argued that “shoddy manufacturing” at the plant was to blame for the defective tire and the fatal crash. Five employees of the Goodyear’s Danville plant backed up those allegations, taking the stand to testify that the tire was manufactured in less-than-ideal conditions, Lynchburg, Virginia’s WSET reported.
According to Tire Business, the plant employees said water contamination, inadequate inspection, and the use of old rubber in the Virginia plant where the defective tire was manufactured might have contributed to the suspect tire’s flaws.
Those allegations are further bolstered by an in-depth 2017 investigation led by Reveal’s Center for Investigative Reporting. According to Reveal’s report, 40,000 Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tires involved in deadly accidents were made in Goodyear plants in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Danville, Virginia, “where intense production demands and leaks in the roof during storms have endangered both workers and consumers for years.” Those tires were recalled in 2012.
“The Danville Virginia Goodyear manufacturing plant is notorious for putting rapid production before workplace safety and quality control,” a lawyer for the Munoz family said in a published statement. An analysis of the failed front-left tire led investigators to determine that a “catastrophic thread separation” triggered the fatal accident.
Specifically, the analysis found that there were a number of problems with the Goodyear tire, including adhesion defects and off-center, wrong-sized steel belts.
When the treads on the Goodyear tire separated, it sent the cement truck into a rollover. The truck then “slid down the road” and crushed Mr. Munoz, the Caller-Times reported, citing plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The Dimmit County jury found that Goodyear was 90 percent responsible for the deadly crash. DGJ Transport, also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, shared the minority of the blame.
Goodyear said that it was “disappointed” in the jury’s verdict, but added that it had reached a settlement agreement with the Munoz family before the jury returned the verdict.