FINDLAY, Ohio (March 23, 2010)—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plans to appeal a verdict in an Iowa tread separation case where the jury found Cooper liable and ordered the tire maker to pay a reported $33 million in damages.
Cooper claims the “facts show that this tire failed due to service-related conditions outside of the control of Cooper Tire.” Cooper blames the tire's failure on a nail puncture—“The nail was still in the tire at the time of the accident,” the company said—long-term underinflation operation and road-hazard impact.
“We have deep sympathy for those involved and wish to express our sincere condolences to the individuals and families impacted by this accident,” Cooper said. “However, we are disappointed with the outcome of this case and will file an appeal.”
The case involved a rollover crash Sept. 17, 2007, of a 1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan that happened on Highway 65 between Des Moines and Marshalltown, Iowa. The rollover ejected all seven passengers from the van, killing Assata Karlar and paralyzing Ivon Toe, according to local media reports of the accident.
The bulk of the damages, $28.4 million, will go to Toe, who lives in a nursing home, local media reported.
The plaintiffs were on their way to their jobs at a Swift & Co. meat packing plant in Marshalltown when the accident happened.
The news reports did not say whether any of the passengers were wearing seat belts.
The reports said the Iowa State Patrol had determined the right rear tire on the van had separated, causing the driver to lose control.
In its prepared statement, Cooper said it “firmly believes that this tire was not defective and that plaintiffs did not prove that any tire defect caused this accident.”