Corpus Christi, Texas, attorney John Gsanger and his Michigan co-counsel Craig Hilborn, Kevin Riddle, and Barry Conybeare obtained a $16,115,048 jury verdict on behalf of Harry Patel against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The jury found Goodyear negligent, in breach of warranty, and also found Harry Patel was innocent of any negligence on his part.
The defective tire was a Pathfinder All Terrain tire sold by Discount Tire and made by Goodyear at its Fayetteville, North Carolina, plant, which is the same tire plant that made the Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor tire line that was recently recalled after a Pecos, Texas, crash which killed college-bound students Kerrybeth Hall and Matthew Smith, both of Port Lavaca, Texas.
Former Goodyear employees from the Fayetteville plant testified about careless manufacturing practices, a failure to enforce quality control standards, and a plant motto of “Round and Black and out the Back” to describe management’s quantity-over-quality philosophy. The court papers in both the Texas Hall-Smith case and the Michigan Patel case linked this negligence to manufacturing defects observed in the tires, which both suffered tread detachments that resulted in single vehicle rollover crashes with tragic consequences. Harry Patel’s crash on US Freeway 31 in Berrien County, Michigan, occurred months after the recall of tires made at the same plant, including the Hall-Smith tire involved in the double fatality crash in Pecos, Texas. John Gsanger was lead counsel in the Hall-Smith case, which settled for a confidential amount earlier this year.
On behalf of the entire Patel family, Harry Patel’s attorneys thanked the jury for their hard work during the two-week trial and for providing Mr. Patel with justice.
“It was a true honor representing Harry Patel,” said attorney John Gsanger, an attorney at The Ammons Law Firm, “and Craig Hilborn’s hard work and preparation resulted in his devastating cross-examination of Goodyear’s witnesses, which was clearly the key to persuading the jury.” Lead counsel Craig Hilborn, head of Hilborn & Hilborn in Birmingham, Michigan, added “John Gsanger works relentlessly to hold tire companies accountable for selling defective tires.” The jury’s finding that Mr. Patel was blameless was due, according to Gsanger, “to Kevin Riddle’s excellent presentation of evidence about the extreme difficulties drivers experience in the wake of a sudden emergency caused by a tread separation.”
Harry Patel inspired his counsel by showing dignity, grace and courage in his search for the truth as to why he was paralyzed. Although the jury’s verdict can never return Mr. Patel to his former life, the verdict will provide him with the resources to get the medical care he needs to allow him to live as independently as possible. “It’s certainly about more than money,” said Kevin Riddle, also with Hilborn & Hilborn. “It sends a message that if you sell a defective product, you’re going to be held liable in court, and that if you make a business decision to roll the dice, a jury will hold you accountable.”