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ARTICLE ID 29103

$________ - PRODUCTS LIABILITY - TIRE DEFECT - SINGLE VEHICLE ACCIDENT - ROLLOVER - TREAD BELT SEPARATION ALLEGEDLY THE CAUSE OF ROLLOVER ACCIDENT WHERE FAMILY OF SEVEN WERE INJURED - TIRE MANUFACTURER FOUND NOT LIABLE - LIABILITY RESTED EXCLUSIVELY WITH DRIVER OF VAN.

Lewis County, Washington

The plaintiffs in this matter are the wife and five children of the driver of a van. The van’s right rear tire blew out allegedly as a result of a manufacturing defect of the tire. All of the occupants were injured and three were ejected from the vehicle.

The defendant tire company denied liability for the defect.

This action involved a single-vehicle accident that occurred on October 26, ________, on northbound Interstate 5 near Chehalis, Washington. The defendant driver was operating a ________ Toyota Previa minivan. The defendant’s wife and five children were occupants in the vehicle. The defendant Tepei was driving the Previa van on the highway in excess of 70 mph when the tire mounted in the right rear position, a Uniroyal Tiger Paw XTM, manufactured by the defendant Uniroyal/Michelin sustained a tread belt separation. Defendant Tepei lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll several times. Three of the six unbelted plaintiffs were ejected from the van. Among the injuries alleged by the plaintiffs were spinal injuries, a broken arm leaving severe disfigurement and diminished use, two claims of severe brain injury, and a fifth plaintiff with allegedly disfiguring facial scarring.

The plaintiffs brought suit against the defendant tire manufacturer and the driver, their husband/father. The plaintiffs alleged that the subject tire, manufactured in ________, was defective in manufacture. The plaintiffs also alleged that the subject tire was defective in design because it lacked a nylon cap ply, a tire component often used in high speed rated tires.

The defendant driver also advanced a manufacturing defect theory in countersuit, claiming that an unidentified contaminate was manufactured into the tire.

The defendant manufacturer, Michelin and Uniroyal alleged that the tire was not defective. The defendant contended that the tire was safely designed and manufactured. The tire manufacturer presented evidence that the subject tire failed due to impact damage that occurred approximately one thousand miles before the failure. Further, the tire had been run in an overdeflected condition which means that it was either underinflated and/or overloaded, for a substantial period of time during its life, making it weaker and more susceptible to impact damage.

As to the plaintiffs’ nylon cap ply allegations, the manufacturer p 7 3 disputed this allegation and presented evidence that nylon cap plies are used most commonly in high speed rated tires, and further, there is no evidence that cap plies prevent tread and belt detachments, especially when a tire has been misused or abused. As to plaintiffs’ manufacturing defect theory, the defendant contended that the tire’s architecture fell within the manufacturer’s specifications and tolerances.

The trial in this matter lasted seven weeks. The jury deliberated for three days before returning the verdict in this matter. The jury poll was 11-1. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant Petru Tepei. The jury returned a verdict against the plaintiffs and in favor of the defendant tire manufacturer on the product liability claims. The jury verdict was broken down as to the individual plaintiffs.

Adrian Tepei’s damages totaled $________ and consisted of $________ in past economic damages, $________ in non-economic damages and $________ in future economic damages. Angelica Telescu Tepei’s damages totaled $________ and consisted of $________ in past economic damages, $________ in non-economic damages and $________ in future economic damages. Benjamin Tepei’s damages totaled $________ and consisted of $________ in past economic damages, $________ in non-economic damages and $________ in future economic damages. Camelia Tepei’s damages totaled $________ and consisted of $________ in past economic damages, $________ in past non-economic damages and $________ in future economic damages. Dan Tepei’s damages totaled $________ and consisted of $________ in past economic damages, $________ in past non-economic damages and $________. Dina Tepei’s damages totaled $________.________ and consisted of $________ in past economic damages, $________ in non-economic damages and $________ in future economic damages.

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