Georgia jury awards $16.5 million verdict in tire blowout lawsuit against Michelin

by Eric Pearson

A jury in DeKalb County, Georgia has awarded $16.5 million to the family of a man killed in a van wreck on Interstate 75 just north of Macon. The jury found that a tire made by Michelin North America was defectively designed and primarily responsible for the fatal accident.

The trial involved the death of 50-year-old Kharka Chhetri. It is the first of 12 cases to go to trial that stem from an accident involving the van that was carrying 14 people to work at a chicken plant. Another passenger died in the accident and a dozen others were injured.

According to the lawsuit, a tire blowout caused the van to strike the median guardrail and flip. Chhetri’s family sued Michelin North America, which owns the company that made the tire, as well as the driver of the van. The lawsuit alleged a defective design caused the van’s rear tire to lose its tread and that Michelin knew about the design defect but failed to do anything to correct the problem.

The jury found that Michelin North America was 80 percent responsible and that the driver was 20 percent at fault. Chhetri’s widow was awarded $5 million for the wrongful death of her husband, and his estate was awarded $20,000 for funeral expenses and pain and suffering. The jury also found that Michelin North America should pay $11.5 million in punitive damages.

HO&P and Tire Defect Litigation

Car and truck tire manufacturers have a duty to build a tire that is as safe as is reasonably possible under the present state of mechanical technology, vehicle design, and safety. To successfully bring about a claim involving a defective tire, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also has the financial resources to handle personal injury cases from start to finish. In fact, there are many instances in which we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

Our firm is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident involving a tire failure or blowout, you need to retain experienced, qualified legal counsel at the earliest opportunity. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the experience and knowledge to pursue a tire failure claim against any of the major manufacturers. To speak with a lawyer about your case, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.