LAS VEGAS — Goodyear, claiming its due process rights were violated, said it will appeal a $30 million jury award in a product liability case in a Nevada court.
An August 2004 accident near Moab, Utah, left three people dead and 14-year-old Joseph Enriquez permanently brain-damaged. A right rear Load Range E Goodyear tire blew out, causing the 15-passenger Ford van in which Enriquez and the others were traveling to roll over.
Attorneys for Enriquez and the other passengers filed suit in Clark County District Court, claiming that both the van and the tire were defective. Ford settled out of court before trial for an undisclosed amount.
District Court Judge Sally Loehrer ruled Goodyear liable for the accident and refused to allow the tire maker to present any evidence in its defense, claiming that Goodyear´s delays in making evidence available to the plaintiffs were a breach of court proceedings.
With no evidence from Goodyear, the jury had no choice but to find for the plaintiffs. On Feb. 5 it awarded $14 million in actual damages to Enriquez, $14 million to the survivors of the three people who died, and $2 million to six passengers in the van who suffered lesser injuries. Four days later, the jury declined to levy punitive damages.
In a prepared media statement, Goodyear said it is confident the Nevada Supreme Court will overturn Loehrer´s ruling.
If Goodyear had been allowed to present its case, the company said, it would have shown conclusive evidence that the blown tire suffered significant road hazard damage before the fatal accident.
Chad Bowers, Las Vegas-based attorney for Enriquez, said he felt Loehrer´s decision was justified and will survive an appeal.
"Goodyear systematically engaged in being evasive in its discovery responses and attempted to prevent us from getting all the information we needed to prove the tire was defective," Bowers said. "We didn´t feel Goodyear was acting in good faith, and neither did the judge."