Recently unsealed court documents show that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. actively covered up claims linking its model G159 tire to numerous injury and death claims.
Since Goodyear released its model G159 tires in 1996, more than 40 lawsuits have been filed against the company claiming its defective tire caused serious auto accidents that resulted in victims’ injury or death. However, Goodyear has been able to hide the findings in nearly every case filed in the last two decades by sealing the records after making a settlement.
Unfortunately, using settlement agreements to seal court records is a common tactic large corporations use to avoid being held liable for producing or marketing defective products. At Greg Coleman Law, our Knoxville product liability attorneys will not hesitate to pursue a lawsuit against a negligent manufacturer to hold it accountable for releasing a dangerous product into the market.
If you believe you have been injured or lost someone you love because of a defective product, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury attorneys to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a case that entitles you to compensation.
Goodyear Sealed Court Records to Hide Tire’s Defect
Between 1996 and 2003, Goodyear manufactured and installed more than 40,000 model G159 tires on motorhomes and recreational vehicles, according to the news site Jalopnik.
Court findings unsealed in 2018 show that model G159 tires were originally intended to be placed on stop-and-go beverage delivery trucks. These tires were later remarketed by Goodyear to be installed on heavy-duty recreational vehicles, where the tire’s treading was at risk of breaking apart while the vehicle was traveling at speeds faster than 65 mph.
Goodyear stopped manufacturing the tire in 2003. However, the company never reported the full number of deaths and injuries to federal safety authorities and has never ordered a recall for the defective tire.
In part, this is due to Goodyear’s largely successful efforts to suppress the information found in lawsuits and court hearings by quickly settling cases.
Dangers of Court Secrecy
In 2016, a federal judge in Arizona found that Goodyear’s attorneys knowingly withheld crucial evidence in lawsuits filed by victims who were injured or lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by a model G159 tire.
In each lawsuit, a judge signed protective orders that enabled Goodyear to label important documents, testimony and internal data regarding model G159 tires as “confidential.”
By forcing victims to sign a settlement agreement, Goodyear was able to legally bar victims from disclosing any of the facts that were derived from their cases.
This means Goodyear was able to suppress the findings in any lawsuit that detailed what the company knew about the tire’s defects and when it became aware of this information. Additionally, this also prevented the public from finding out whether Goodyear took any action to correct the defect or report it to auto safety regulators.
Furthermore, by having settlements, complaints and records sealed, Goodyear was able to effectively prevent any backlash from any U.S. auto safety regulator that could have initiated a recall or investigation.
Essentially, this enabled Goodyear to avoid accountability for releasing a defective product that killed at least nine people and injured dozens more for more than 20 years.
How Lawsuits Are Used to Stop Corporate Misconduct
In 2017, a federal court ordered the release of the confidential findings in Goodyear tire lawsuits that had been sealed under court orders and settlement agreements.
The ruling allowed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct a full investigation into the model G159 tires’ design, testing information and Goodyear’s marketing tactics that resulted in it being used on motor homes and recreational vehicles.
In December 2017, the NHTSA sent a letter to Goodyear detailing the investigation’s findings regarding the accurate number of deaths and injuries caused by its G159 tires between 1996 and 2015. This includes:
- 1998: two death or injury claims
- 1999: four death or injury claims
- 2000: six death or injury claims
- 2001: eight death or injury claims
Additionally, the NHTSA uncovered another 57 death or injury claims filed with Goodyear between 2003 and 2015.
The NHTSA’s letter raised questions about whether Goodyear intentionally failed to provide the agency and courts with accurate information about the defective G159 tires. The letter also stated Goodyear had only reported nine claims and that one death and 13 injuries were linked to the tire.
A lawsuit filed by the Center for Auto Safety and Public Justice attempted to have the unsealed records obtained by the NHTSA made public. A Maricopa County Superior Court Judge in Arizona ruled in favor of the nonprofit, stating that Goodyear’s need for confidentiality does not outweigh the public’s need for accurate information about a marketed product.
However, Goodyear has filed an appeal to prevent the information from being released to the public.
Contact Greg Coleman Law for a Free Consultation
Without legal accountability, many corporations would likely create policies to avoid accountability for manufacturing and marketing a defective product that injures or kills its users.
At Greg Coleman Law, we believe consumers have a right to know about the products they have purchased and whether they are at risk when using a product for its intended purpose. When a manufacturer fails to uphold its duty to ensure consumers’ safety, we believe it should be held liable for its negligence.
We will not hesitate to pursue maximum compensation for victims who are injured or lose a loved one from a defective product. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a case that entitles you to compensation. We do not get paid unless you do.
Call (865) 247-0080 to get started today.