FORT PIERCE, Fla.—A jury in St. Lucie County circuit court has ruled in favor of Michelin North America Inc., Takata Corp. and other plaintiffs in an $80 million product liability case involving an April 2009 rollover accident.
Latoya Dukes was driving her Chevrolet SUV on Interstate 95 in St. Lucie County when the Michelin tire on the right rear of the vehicle blew out. The vehicle rolled over several times, seriously injuring Dukes and her four passengers. Ms. Dukes' teenage daughter, Kiara Dukes, and another passenger received catastrophic brain injuries.
The lawsuit claimed that the Michelin tire was defective, and also that the Takata seat belts Ms. Dukes and two other passengers were wearing were defective. Kiara Dukes and the other catastrophically injured passenger were not wearing their seat belts, according to a news article published at the time of the accident.
Plaintiffs' attorneys asked for more than $80 million in damages for the accident victims, Michelin said in an Aug. 26 press release. The jury, however, absolved Michelin, Takata and the other defendants in a unanimous decision Aug. 24.
“Michelin respects the work the jury did to reach its decision,” the tire maker said. “While we sincerely regret this tragic accident and the devastating effects it has had on the Dukes family, the evidence presented throughout the nine-week trial showed that the subject tire was not defective.”
This case represents the most recent of several victories in product liability cases for Michelin over the past year, the company said. These include three dismissals in Texas and a unanimous verdict for Michelin in Arizona, it said.