To avoid trial, Bridgestone and GM have settled a case brought by a Texas man who was just 30 years old when he suffered paralyzing injuries when the 2001 GM Yukon in which he was a passenger rolled over.
The rollover was caused by the tread separation failure of a Wilderness LE tire that was 12 years old and was an original equipment spare on the Yukon. The Wilderness LE tire had been selected by GM as original equipment on its Yukons. The failed tire, built by Bridgestone, had deteriorated and become brittle with age.
The lawsuit filed by Rob Ammons claimed the Wilderness LE was defective because it had inadequate belt edge treatment for durability and lacked a full nylon cap ply, a feature proven to resist initiation and progression of tread and belt separations. Ammons also claimed that despite knowing how age adversely affects a tire’s components, Bridgestone failed to warn of the effects of tire aging and that older tires, including spares, must be removed from service and replaced with newer tires.
The lawsuit also contained allegations that the Yukon’s rollover protection system (ROPS) was defective, resulting in the passenger in this rollover being needlessly subjected to extra injuries that would not have been suffered in a vehicle with a crashworthy ROPS. Specifically, Ammons complained of the ROPS’ inability to maintain the passenger’s survival space and restrain him as the vehicle rolled over. Ammons contended that the roof structure was weak and unable to support the weight of the vehicle in this crash and that the seat belt, which was not equipped with pretensioners that are activated in a rollover to lock the belt’s webbing, was incapable of keeping the man in contact with his seat. As a result, he was allowed to move away from his seat where compression forces acted to cause spinal fractures and a spinal cord injury that rendered him paraplegic. Expenses for past treatment topped half a million dollars with future treatment and services projected to cost more than $5 million over the man’s lifetime.
“The resolution of this case will take care of my client and provide for his future needs. Knowing the client will be cared for is what counts,” says Ammons.
Also included in the suit were two automotive service businesses which inspected the Yukon and its tires prior to the crash but failed to remove the 12-year-old tire from service or, alternatively, to warn of the dangers it presented to those riding in the Yukon.
The Ammons Law Firm has a nationwide personal injury practice focusing on tire defects, truck accidents, rollovers, consumer protection and product liability, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, air bag defects and plant explosions.