ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 15)—A New York appellate court has overturned a $4 million product liability judgment against Michelin North America Inc. after 12 years in litigation.
Because only a small portion of the Uniroyal tire in question still exists, there is insufficient evidence for a finding of product defect, ruled the New York Appellate Division, Third Department.
The case involved a 1990 car accident in which a woman was rendered comatose and later died. Because of spoliation of evidence, the court also dismissed the case against Goldring Motors Inc., the dealership that sold Dalila Abulhassan the used Volvo that allegedly had a defective Uniroyal tire.
"You don't see much opinion on this issue (spoliation of evidence), because most of these cases go away," said Dan Sanders, director of litigation for Michelin. "This suggests that we shouldn't skip the first step, but preserve evidence in cases where there are alleged product defects."
Attorneys for the Abulhassan family said they will appeal, adding that extending spoliation sanctions to a third-party indemnification case is an unwarranted extension of the law.