NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (July 1, 2010)—A jury before the Circuit Court of Pasco County, Fla. has ordered Goodyear to pay $5.6 million in the case of an allegedly improper Goodyear G159 tire that was original equipment on a 2000 American Tradition motor home.
John Schalmo, owner of the motor home, was driving near Chipley, Fla., on Aug. 11, 2004, with another vehicle in tow. The right front tire on the motor home allegedly suffered a tread separation. Schalmo lost control of the motor home, which crossed an exit ramp and crashed into a line of trees. Schalmo, his father-in-law William McClintock, and his mother-in-law Ruth McClintock were severely injured. William McClintock lost both legs in the crash.
Attorneys for Schalmo argued that Goodyear improperly marketed the G159 tire as original equipment for Schalmo's motor home and other recreational vehicles. “This was an inappropriate application for a tire not robust enough for this vehicle,” said Hugh Smith of Smith, Fuller & Roberts, a law firm specializing in tire litigation that represented Schalmo.
Safety Research & Strategies Inc., the Rehoboth, Mass.-based auto safety watchdog group, claims Goodyear marketed the G159 as an OE product to RV manufacturers for nearly a decade despite knowing it was only appropriate for urban delivery vehicles.
In a statement, Goodyear said it was disappointed in the verdict and would appeal.
“This was an unfortunate accident, and our thoughts and prayers are with those injured,” the tire maker said. “However, Mr. Schalmo ignored a number of safety issues with his vehicle.” Among other things, Schalmo did not hook up the supplemental brakes on the vehicle he was towing, ignored a vibration in his steering wheel and got out of the driver's seat while the motor home was traveling at highway speeds, Goodyear said.