BELLEVILLE, Ill. (June 23, 2010)—Goodyear and Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America Ltd. have sued two attorneys with the Chicago firm of Perkins Coie L.L.P., alleging their negligence cost the tire companies an easy victory in a product liability case.
Goodyear and Dunlop said they were forced to settle in March 2010 with Michael and Darla Green, a couple riding tandem from Illinois to Yellowstone National Park on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle in July 2007.
Despite a friend's warning that their Dunlop rear tire looked low on air and that she smelled burning rubber from their motorcycle, the Greens continued on their trip until the tire suddenly deflated in Lafayette County, Mo., causing the Greens to crash. Both were injured, and they filed suit against the tire makers in June 2008.
In their brief filed May 5, 2010 in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Ill., Goodyear and Dunlop noted a number of extenuating circumstances in their favor in the case, including the tire's underinflation and low tread, the Greens' obesity (both weighed over 260 pounds) and their lack of proper safety gear.
However, Goodyear and Dunlop accused their attorneys, Jeanne M. Cullen and Matthew J. Gehringer, of bungling the case. Among other things, the tire makers accused the lawyers of failing to file a demand for a jury trial; of making various errors that caused the judge to strike the testimony of Goodyear and Dunlop's expert witness; and of procedural and evidentiary errors in their cross-examination of Michael Green.
Goodyear and Dunlop asked for damages in excess of $50,000 against Cullen, Gehringer and Perkins Coie. Thomas Q. Keefe Jr., Goodyear and Dunlop's attorney, said he expected the defendants' responding brief in one or two weeks.
Gehringer declined comment on the case, and Cullen could not be reached for comment.