By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The wheels of justice – or in this case, the tires of justice – turn slowly. But Goodyear Tire must pay for their sins. In this case, a federal court in Arizona has ordered the big tire giant to pay out $520,000. This for concealing evidence and discovery materials in a motorhome tire blowout case.

Not safe for motorhomes

You may recall the case of Leroy and Donna Haeger, an Arizona couple whose motorhome rolled over in 2003. A Goodyear steer tire blew out, blasting the coach off the roadway. The Haegers and two others on board their motorhome were injured. The couple filed suit in 2005, alleging that the Goodyear-made tires on their motorhome, originally designed for local delivery trucks, were unsuitable for use on motorhomes.

Goodyear dragged discovery on the case out for almost five long years. During that time, the attorneys for the Heagers had to force the tire firm back to court. Why? To get the company to turn over test information about the G159 tires in question. Just before the scheduled trial in 2010, the family and Goodyear reached an out-of-court settlement. But Goodyear Tire must pay again. Why?

“Repeated, deliberate decisions”

In their original move for discovery, the Haegers had pushed Goodyear to provide internal company documents on heat and speed tests performed on the G159 tires. At the time, Goodyear adamantly declared that no such documents existed. But only after the settlement, the couple’s attorney saw an interesting article. It pointed to the very documents that Goodyear claimed didn’t exist. The Haegers dragged Goodyear back to court. This time they asked for sanctions against Goodyear, and the company’s attorneys, for hiding requested evidence.

In 2012 a federal judge sided with the Haegers. The judge declared that the tire maker and their attorneys had made “repeated, deliberate decisions” to “delay the production of relevant information, make misleading and false in-court statements, and conceal relevant documents.” The court ordered that Goodyear and its attorney, Basil Musnuff, and his firm, Roetzel & Andress Musnuff, hand over $2.7 million.

Supreme Court reacts

Goodyear appealed, and the matter eventually landed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Early in 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that the amount exceeded the Haegers’ actual attorney’s fees. “In other words, the fee award may go no further than to redress the wronged party ‘for losses sustained,’” reads the opinion. “It may not impose an additional amount as punishment for the sanctioned party’s misbehavior.”

Late this month a court determined the actual amount Goodyear Tire must pay is more than $520,000. The amount includes attorney’s fees and interest that has accrued since the original judgment. Attorney Musnuff had already handed over $1.1 million following the initial ruling, so Goodyear was granted an offset of that $1.1 million against the judgment made on March 26. This left them with the $520,000 to pay.

Not the only suit

This isn’t the only lawsuit regarding the G159 tire that Goodyear has had to deal with. As of 2018, 41 lawsuits had been filed against Goodyear for alleged defects in these tires, according to Jalopnik. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the matter.

Related

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Photo: David Kurtz via jalopnik.com

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Mann Fred
8 days ago

I to have had no blowouts, but tread separation on the Goodyear tires on my 5th wheel. Will say Goodyear did replace the tires and pay for all damage to my rig.

Tommy Molnar
8 days ago

Unfortunately, Good Year has purchased Cooper tire, a company whose tires I’ve used for years and years. I just bought four new ones last week for my pickup. I hope Good Year-think doesn’t ruin what has been a fine tire manufacturer.

Ken Schaffer
8 days ago

Escapees will, I hope, reconsider its discount program and all affiliation with Goodyear.
Companies which lie and knowingly sacrifice us should not be rewarded.

Jesse W Crouse
8 days ago

Goodyear should have to pay “punitive” damages for lying, deceiving and evading it’s legal and ethical respondsibilities to the plaintiff and the court it made the statements to.

Mike Sherman
8 days ago
Reply to  Jesse W Crouse

Jesse is absolutely correct. Goodyear should count their blessing no one died, otherwise they could be looking at a much higher figure.

Bob P
8 days ago

They should go after Ford for making the motorhome chassis off a standard freight delivery vehicle I had a Ford F-53 chassis that the anti sway bar literally fell apart driving to FL 4 years ago. As soon as we returned I traded it off on a workhorse chassis and never had a minutes worry after that. It drove better, handled better, and got better gas mpg.