Ford and Tire Shop Pay in Fatal Rollover Crash

The case arose from the rollover of a 1995 Ford Explorer following the failure of its left rear tire. The lawsuit was brought by the surviving wife and daughter of a 44-year-old Santa Fe, New Mexico, man. The crash occurred when the tread on a regrooved tire sold and installed on the Explorer by a local tire business peeled away from the tire’s carcass. The Explorer rolled over.

Ammons alleged the Explorer’s geometry and suspension cause it to handle poorly and become exceedingly difficult to control following a rear tire failure, making it defective and prone to rolling over. Ford documented the phenomenon (referring to it as “skate”) but dragged its feet in attempting to correct the problem. In the rollover, the Explorer also proved to be uncrashworthy. Its roof collapsed over the man and his seat belt failed to stay tight, allowing his head to violently and fatally strike the intruding roof structure.

The tire that failed had been “regrooved,” meaning the rubber in the grooves of the tire had been carved out to create additional tread depth. A worn tire with a tread depth below the legal limit can be made to have legal tread depth through this practice. However, according to Ammons, regrooving is not endorsed by tire manufacturers and Michelin, the manufacturer of the failed tire in this case, advises that regrooving of tires designed for use on public roads is prohibited. Despite that, this regrooved tire was sold and installed on the Explorer by one local business. A second business inspected the Explorer and its tires, including the regrooved tire, shortly before its failure. Despite the presence of wear bars and visible exposed cords, the owner was not advised that the tire was dangerous or needed to be replaced.

The Ammons Law Firm is located in Houston, Texas and practices personal injury law, including cases involving tire defects, oil rig explosions, truck accidents, plant explosions, refinery accidents, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, seatback defects, airbag defects, SUV rollovers, and workplace negligence.