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Jury awards nearly $10 million in defective tire case

The manufacturer of a defective product that causes bodily injury to an intended user is liable to compensate the user for his or her injuries. West Virginia and other states apply similar theories of liability in product liability cases. In a recent jury verdict in another state the jury awarded nearly $10 million to a woman who had sued a major tire company for what she claimed were "catastrophic" injuries suffered in an auto accident. The company's tires were on the Chevrolet she was driving when one of the tires had a tread separation that caused her car to roll over several times.

The verdict was against Continental Tire the Americas LLC. The company had supplied the tires on the new Chevrolet Cobalt that the woman purchased from a dealership in April 2006. She serviced the car and tires for the next three years at the local Wal-Mart.

Her lawsuit alleged that she was driving on I-95 in Stuart, Florida in May of 2009 when one of the tires had a tread separation. She alleged that the sudden event caused the serious crash and her injuries. A jury in Palm Beach County entered its verdict against Continental for the defective tire.

The woman had originally sued Wal-Mart and a local Chevrolet dealership but the outcome against those entities is not included in press reports. They could have been released from the suit prior to trial or the jury could have exonerated them from liability in favor of imposing full liability on the tire manufacturer. The lawsuit had claimed that the tire company was negligent in the design, testing, manufacturing and inspection of the tire.

The press report doesn't say whether the case also alleged strict liability in tort against the tire company but such cases almost always have a count for strict liability. In West Virginia and other states, strict liability is in some ways more feasible to prove than negligence. Generally, if it is proved that the product was in fact defective, and no warning of the defect was given, the manufacturer will be strictly liable for injuries to end users regardless of whether or not the manufacturer was negligent in the production of the product.

Source:, Continental ordered to pay $10 million in Fla. product liability case, No author, Oct. 8, 2013

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