CARSON CITY, Nev. (Jan. 4, 2011)—Goodyear has lost a $32.2 million liability judgment involving a fatal rollover accident, in a decision by the Nevada Supreme Court.
The state high court denied Goodyear a rehearing on its July 1 ruling that upheld a lower court decision finding the tire maker at fault for the blowout of a Goodyear Load Range E tire on a 15-passenger Ford van on the highway near Moab, Utah. Evertina Tapia, Andres Torres and Frank Enriquez died in the accident; 14-year-old Joseph Enriquez suffered severe brain damage, and six other passengers were injured in the August 2004 accident.
The lower court, accusing Goodyear among other things of withholding documents and creating unnecessary delays, barred the tire maker from presenting evidence in its defense, and the jury awarded $32.2 million in compensatory damages in February 2007.
Judge Mark Gibbons, the same judge who wrote the original decision upholding the lower court, said in the Dec. 30 ruling that Goodyear had no grounds for requesting a rehearing.
“Goodyear argues that (the original ruling) misapplied Nevada law, deprived Goodyear of due process, created an unfair double standard between plaintiffs and defendants, and is against the weight of other jurisdictions' authority,” Gibbons wrote. “We disagree. We followed clear Nevada precedentÃ Goodyear enjoyed sufficient due process in this matter, and plaintiffs and defendants receive similar treatment for discovery abuses under Nevada law.”
Judge Kristina Pickering dissented from the Dec. 30 decision as she did from the earlier ruling. “The $30 million default judgment in this case rests on the district court choosing to believe one side's lawyers over another's, with no evidentiary hearing, no cross-examination, and a genuine dispute over willfulness, fault and prejudice,” she wrote.
Goodyear could not be reached for comment.