CAMDEN, N.J. — A Chinese tire maker is fighting a pending class action in a federal district court in Camden, arguing the court has no jurisdiction over it.
Plaintiffs´ attorneys led by Philadelphia lawyer Jeffrey B. Killino filed the class action, claiming certain light truck tires made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. are inherently defective.
However, in a motion filed with the Camden court Nov. 5, Hangzhou Zhongce argued that it should be dismissed from the lawsuit. The company said it doesn´t itself market, distribute, advertise or sell the tires in the state.
Because it has no business ties nor assets in New Jersey, suing the company in that state violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and traditional legal notions of fair play, the motion claimed.
The class action stems from an August 2006 accident in Pennsylvania. One man was killed and another suffered permanent brain damage when their van rolled over, an accident Killino blames on an allegedly faulty Hangzhou Zhongce-made tire.
The Chinese-made tire was the subject of a recall after Union, N.J.-based Foreign Tire Sales Inc., which imported the tires, told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that some of them lacked sufficient gum strips for proper belt adhesion.
Ultimately, the recall covered 255,000 of the light-truck tires, but when it ended on Oct. 25 only about 7,000 were recovered.
The class action names FTS, Hangzhou Zhongce and several distributors FTS said may have imported some of the recalled tires. However, the other distributors told NHTSA they never imported Hangzhou Zhongce tires or the particular ones in question.
Killino blasted the Chinese company in a Nov. 6 news release. "China, acting through its government-owned tire factory Hang-zhou Zhongce, is thumbing its nose at U.S. courts by arguing that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction to hear the claims," he said.
Mark Gately, a Washington attorney for the firm of Hogan & Hartson which represents Hangzhou Zhongce, wouldn´t comment on Killino´s allegations.