JACKSON, Miss. (June 29, 2010)—The Mississippi Supreme Court has dismissed Goodyear's appeal of a product liability lawsuit after attorneys for both Goodyear and the plaintiffs notified the court that they had reached a settlement.
Details of the settlement are confidential in the case of Travis Kirby, who was 20 in August 2000 when he was killed in the crash of his Chevrolet Camaro Z28 in Copiah County, Miss. Passengers Riley Strickland, 18, and Sidney Odom, 19, were injured.
Attorneys for Strickland, Odom and Kirby's parents claimed the right rear Kelly-Springfield tire on Kirby's car was defective. Goodyear's expert witness testified that the tire had a puncture; also, Goodyear's attorneys noted that none of the Camaro's occupants was wearing a seat belt and that Kirby's blood-alcohol content was more than triple the legal limit.
In its instructions to the jury, the trial court threw out all testimony that the tire was defective, but allowed the jury to consider whether Goodyear failed to comply with an express warranty. The tire failed at 10,000 miles and 92 mph, the court said, whereas it had a 50,000-mile warranty and was speed-rated at 112 mph.
The jury found for the plaintiffs, and awarded more than $2.6 million total from Goodyear and Big 10 Tires & Accessories in Hattiesburg, Miss., minus the $495,000 Howard Wilson Chrysler-Jeep had already paid.
Goodyear appealed the verdict, saying there was no evidence to support the existence of a warranty. The appeals court rejected the appeal, however, ruling that Goodyear should have made that objection at the original trial.
In a statement, Goodyear said it was pleased with the settlement. “While our sympathies are with the families affected by this tragic accident, thorough forensic analysis of the tire in question indicated the tire suffered from some form of impact damage prior to the accident,” the company said.
Officials of Big 10 Tire could not immediately be reached for comment.