Goodyear and Dunlop Tires have settled a lawsuit which alleged that one of its tires suddenly deflated, causing personal injuries to the riders of a motorcycle. The settlement was for an undisclosed amount, but according to court filings by Goodyear, was based on a decision settle immediately, “rather than risk an adverse and substantial verdict by the Court at trial.”
The lawsuit was filed in Illinois by plaintiffs Mike and Darla Green, who owned a Harley Davidson motorcycle. In June, 2007, the Greens left Illinois with two other couples to drive to Yellowstone National Park. A passenger on one of the motorcycles following the Greens complained that she could smell burnt rubber. She also told the Greens that it appeared that their back tire had a slow leak.
The parties got back on the road after lunch and within minutes, the rear tire on the Green’s motorcycle had a sidewall deflation. When the tire deflated, Mike Green lost control of the bike and it skidded on its side, throwing off Mike and Darla.
Darla Green was taken by an ambulance to Research Medical Center in Independence, Missouri. She suffered a brain injury and a torn rotator cuff. She experienced general loss of vision in both eyes and had continuing bouts of anxiety and depression. She also suffered severe road rash and underwent an emergency tracheotomy at the scene of the accident. The scarring from the tracheotomy had affected her ability to sing with her church choir.
Though Michael Green initially refused treatment for his injuries, he subsequently went to the hospital. There, he was given morphine for pain caused by the accident. He was eventually diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his right knee, which required two operations.
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The Greens filed suit in 2008, alleging that their injuries were caused by defects in the Dunlop tire on the rear of their bike. In its initial response, Goodyear alleged that the Greens had overloaded the capacity of the bike, both at the time of the accident and for some time before the accident, leading to the sudden deflation of the tire. Both Mike and Darla Green weighed over 260 pounds at the time of the accident and the Greens also had luggage on the bike.
To support this claim, Goodyear alleged that the tire had only 1/16th of an inch of tread at time of the accident. According to Goodyear, this demonstrated that the Greens had failed to properly inspect the bike before operating it.
During the discovery process, Goodyear sought to provide the testimony of its plant manager, indicating that quality control processes were in place and that the Green’s tire had been properly inspected before leaving the plant. This, they believed, made it clear that the Green’s injuries were the result of their own negligence. The judge in the case ruled, however, that this testimony was inadmissible. The case settled shortly after this ruling.
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