The Goodyear G159 has been referred to in some media reports as “the worst tire made in history,” involved in as many as 98 crash deaths caused by tire problems. They are the subject of dozens of injury and wrongful death lawsuits and currently the focus of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – despite never being recalled.
In fact, according to a number of those lawsuits, the company has sought deliberately to conceal just how dangerous the tires were.
In one such case, a man packed up his family into their luxury motorhome in 2003, for aFlorida Disney World getaway, complete with his wife, adult son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. However, on the return trip home to Alabama, on I-75 in Georgia, the treads on the left front Goodyear tire began to come off. The driver struggled to keep control, but the RV crossed the median and plowed into an embankment. The vehicle, nearly 40 feet long, hit a direction sign, slid across the rest area entrance and hit a second embankment before stopping. The two women suffered broken backs. His son broke his hip. The driver was paralyzed but died months later of complications from crash-related injuries.
The tire in question was reportedly a Goodyear G159. A wrongful death attorney representing the family says their product liability lawsuit is one in a long line of them pertaining to this particular tire, which is tied to decades of crashes, an alleged defect reportedly tied with dozens of deaths.
The tire is designed for use by lower-speed delivery vehicles. According to numerous plaintiff lawsuits, it shouldn’t have been on any RVs at all. It’s a tire that plaintiff attorneys say has been involved in dozens of deadly RV crashes over the last 30 years, yet it’s never been recalled or fixed. Instead plaintiffs say the company aggressively tried to hide just how perilous the tires were.
Jalopnik reports that 16 years ago, facing thousands of complaints about the tires placed on motorhomes, the manufacturer chose not to recall the vehicles, but instead issued a service bulletin offering to replace their G159 tires for free for certain owner. By that time, the company had received more than 20 reports of injury and deaths.
Following the Jalopnik report, the NHTSA announced it would be investigating reports of the alleged G159 defects, which may have been involved in at least 95 injuries or deaths stretching back into the 90s (specifically 1996 to 2003. The agency has requested field performance and safety and design information from the manufacturer, based in Akron, Ohio.
In total, it’s believed some 40,000 tires may have been defective. Jalopnik, an auto site, has been combing through plaintiff complaints for months, reporting findings that the failure rate of those tires was some 10 to 27 times worse than those of some 500 Firestone tires that were deemed defective. The documents reviewed by Jalopnik were previously sealed.
In a number of the personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involving G159 tires, the company insists the cause of the crash was driver error, tire underinflation, motorhome overloaded, road debris and extreme temperatures. Of course, as tire blowout attorneys in Orlando can explain, all of this pushes liability from the tire manufacturer onto someone else (including, in many cases, the victim).
What is different about these cases compared to other Florida tire defect lawsuits is that because of the legal tactics used by the company – namely, confidential settlements – the public had little information on which to rely with regard to how dangerous these tires reportedly were.
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How Goodyear Hid Evidence Of ‘The Worst Tire Made In History’ Linked To At Least 9 Deaths, June 6, 2018, Jalopnik
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Court: No UIM For Motorcyclist From Insurer of Car That Struck Him, June 23, 2018, Product Liability Lawyer Blog