Parks v. Michelin North America et. al.

Mar 14, 2005 – Riverside Superior Court, Riverside, CA

In a key automotive industry decision, a Riverside County, California jury has ruled that a LTX tire manufactured by Michelin North America, Inc., at the company’s Dothan, Alabama plant was safe and not defective.

"As we maintained throughout the trial, Michelin’s product was safe and did not contain a manufacturing defect,” Michelin lead trial attorney, James J. Yukevich of the Los Angeles law firm of Yukevich | Cavanaugh said. “We are all pleased that the jury concluded that this tire was properly manufactured and caused no harm.” Along with Mr. Yukevich, Michelin was represented by Alexander Calfo and Cristina Ciminelli.

After deliberating for less than four hours, the jury concluded that no defect existed in the subject tire. The jury thereafter found against defendant St. Theresa’s Parish—the owner of the vehicle on which the tire in question was mounted and the employer of the vehicle’s driver—and The Archdiocese of Phoenix.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiffs—Laura Parks, Lourie Plaza, Maureen Gilloon, Jamie Howe, Christi Oliver, Maricela Moffitt – were returning to Phoenix from Duarte, California, following a weekend retreat sponsored by the Parish. All of the plaintiffs are Arizona residents and the accident occurred in Riverside County. Among the injuries alleged by plaintiffs were a severed ulnar nerve and fractured arm leaving severe disfigurement and diminished use, a degloving injury of the foot leaving severe disfigurement and diminished use, disfiguring facial scarring, brain injury resulting in diminished cognitive function, and post traumatic stress disorder.

During the trial, Michelin’s independent expert, Thomas Dodson of Smithers Scientific Services in Akron, Ohio, presented evidence that the tire in question failed due to impact damage that occurred approximately one thousand miles before the accident. Mr. Dodson testified that there was no evidence that the tire had been manufactured with any contamination as the plaintiffs had alleged.

The plaintiffs claimed that when the tire was made in 1995 an unidentified contaminant was manufactured into the tire at some undetermined phase of the manufacturing process, leading to inadequate bonding of the tire components. In his testimony, Mr. Dodson made it clear that so-called “process marks” can be found in any properly manufactured tire, and these marks do not disappear during the manufacturing process.

About Michelin North America: Michelin produces and sells tires for all kinds of vehicles, including passenger car, light and heavy trucks, 2-wheels, aircraft, agricultural and earthmover vehicles, as well as the U.S. space shuttle, and develops suspension and anti-vibration systems. Michelin counts 80 production sites in 5 continents, has 130,000 employees and sales operations in more than 170 countries.

About Yukevich | Cavanaugh: Yukevich | Cavanaugh specializes in defending U.S. and global companies in product liability litigation across a broad cross section of industries from automobile manufacturing to consumer product companies to a variety of other industrial clients. The firm, which has tried cases across the U.S., also has proven capabilities in national discovery coordination, alternative dispute resolution (mediation and arbitration), crisis management, jury verdict research, and computerized litigation support.

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