March 5, 2019, PLLR News
Defective tire leads to tread separation
Suit alleged that a tire manufacturer and tire service company, among others, were liable for a concrete mixing truck’s tire tread failure. The plaintiffs charged that tread in the roadway led to a minivan rollover that caused their severe injuries. Some of the defendants settled confidentially, and the jury awarded $10.6 million plus $1.1 million in delay damages. The parties later reached an undisclosed settlement. Doe v. Silvi Concrete Prods.
Doe, 31, and her infant daughter were passengers in a minivan that encountered a 14-foot piece of truck tire tread that had been left on an interstate highway after a concrete mixing truck experienced tire tread failure. Doe’s mother, the 62-year-old driver of the minivan, struck a guardrail as she attempted to avoid the curled-up tire tread. This caused the minivan to overturn onto its passenger side, and Doe and her child were partially ejected from the vehicle. Doe’s left dominant arm was severed in the incident. Her daughter’s leg was partially amputated.
Doe and her daughter sued Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, the manufacturer of the Bridgestone L315 tire left on the roadway, alleging strict liability for the tire’s defective manufacture. The plaintiffs alleged that the tire had internal air pockets that decreased its strength and led to tread separation. Suit also named McCarthy Tire Service Co., which retreaded the tire approximately three years before the incident, alleging the defendant failed to identify problems with the tire during the retreading process. The plaintiffs also alleged that McCarthy franchisor Bridgestone-Bandag failed to follow up with McCarthy after an audit showed problems with the company’s retread process, particularly the failure to use scanning to identify tire problems.
Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that Silvi Concrete Products, which employed the driver of the concrete mixing truck, was liable for the driver’s failure to timely call 911 after the tread failure and for the company’s failure to implement a tire maintenance program.
Doe’s mother—who suffered emotional distress from the incident—sued McCarthy and Silvi Concrete.
The plaintiffs did not claim medical expenses or past lost wages.
The tire manufacturer argued that there was nothing wrong with the Bridgestone L315, that Silvi failed to properly maintain the truck, and that Doe’s mother was to blame for the crash. McCarthy argued that Silvi was responsible for the incident and that the tire had not failed. Bridgestone Bandag also argued that Doe’s mother was at fault.
The Bridgestone defendants settled confidentially before trial. During trial, McCarthy settled confidentially with all the plaintiffs, and Silvi settled confidentially with Doe’s daughter. The jury awarded $10.6 million plus $1.1 million in delay damages, finding that the plaintiffs were entitled to punitive damages. The jury determined that Silvi was 85 percent liable and Doe’s mother was 15 percent responsible. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement before a verdict on punitive damages.
Citation: Doe v. Silvi Concrete Prods., No. 161101727 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Phila. Cnty. Oct. 2, 2018).
Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Kyle Farrar, Joseph Urban, and Wesley Ball, all of Houston; and Mike Dennin and AAJ member Daniel J. Sherry Jr., both of Philadelphia.