The Real Life Consequences of Secrecy in the Courts

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The Real Life Consequences of Secrecy in the Courts 

Johnny Bradley

In July of 2004, Johnny Bradley, his wife Timica and their son were driving cross-country to their new Navy recruiting station in Pensacola, Florida.  On their way there they planned to visit Johnny’s mother in Mississippi.  Upon hearing about the dangers of Firestone tires, Johnny equipped his truck with Cooper tires and even had his vehicle inspected by a local repair shop.  Timica was behind the wheel and the baby asleep when the tire tread on one of the rear Cooper tires separated.  The Bradley’s vehicle rolled over four times instantly killing Timica and rendering Johnny unconscious.  Johnny who was still recovering from his injuries was unable to make his wife’s funeral.

While litigating Johnny’s case, his attorney uncovered documented evidence of Cooper tire design defects.  These documents, that could have saved Johnny’s family, had been kept confidential through protective orders in over two hundred previous lawsuits against Cooper.  Johnny’s attorney had to fight numerous uphill litigation battles to gain access to them. Johnny’s attorney knew about these documents in the first place because he specialized in tire litigation.  Prior to the end of his federal trial, Cooper Tires settled with Johnny Bradley but demanded that almost all litigation documents would be kept confidential under a broad protective order. 

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