A San Antonio jury has awarded $1.38 million in damages for a rollover crash that killed one and injured three others.
The day before the accident, Blanca Moreno and her boyfriend David Cortez took her Honda CRV sport utility vehicle to a Discount Tire store in San Antonio because one of the rear tires was low on air. The tire that was low had a nail in it, and Discount Tire employees told Cortez that the tire was not repairable. According to the plaintiffs, Discount Tire employees stated that the spare tire was good and that Cortez could either buy a new tire or use the spare. Cortez had Discount Tire put on the spare.
The spare was 13 years old. According to the plaintiffs, Discount Tire had a policy of inspecting all tires on vehicles brought in for service and not touching any tire that is 10 years old or older, and Discount Tire employees are trained that older tires will fail because of their age. The next day, the vehicle was driven about 100 miles, and the tire failed. Cortez testified that if Discount Tire told him that the spare was more than 10 years old and that it could fail because of its age, he would have bought a new tire instead of allowing the spare to be mounted.
On Interstate 10 near Junction, Texas, the tire lost its tread and air, and Moreno lost control, rolled over and went down a steep embankment. A passenger in the rear was killed, and the other occupants were injured.
The spare tire had been designed and manufactured by Michelin North America Inc. Michelin entered into a confidential settlement with all the plaintiffs in January 2012.
The claims against Discount Tire went to trial. The plaintiffs argued that Discount Tire alone was at fault and that most tire manufacturers, including Michelin, tell retailers such as Discount Tire, to notify customers that older tires should not be used on vehicles. An expert witness regarding tire failures testified that the tire failed within 100 miles of use was because it had deteriorated with age while sitting in the vehicle as an unused spare. The Plaintiffs argued that Discount Tire violated its own policies with respect to old tires and that Discount Tire should not have put the tire on the Moreno vehicle.
Discount Tire argued that Moreno, who was driving, was negligent for not controlling the vehicle when the tire failed and was responsible for the injuries and death of her car’s occupants. In addition, Discount Tire argued the rear passengers were negligent for not wearing their seat belts. Discount Tire also contended that Cortez had already made up his mind not to buy a new tire, and Discount Tire telling him the age of the spare would not have changed his mind. Discount Tire also argued that other tire stores do not even have a policy of notifying customers if their spare tire is more than 10 years old, and Discount Tire should not be punished for trying to do the right thing by having such a policy.
The jury found that negligence by Discount Tire and Moreno was a proximate cause of the occupants’ injuries, that a manufacturing defect existed when the tire left Michelin North America Inc. and was a producing cause of the occupants’ injuries, and that the negligence of passengers not wearing seatbelts was a proximate cause of their injuries.
Heygood, Orr & Pearson has extensive experience in product defect lawsuits, including cases involving tire failures and vehicle rollovers. If you or a loved on has been involved in such an accident, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online case evaluation form.