ATLANTA-The Georgia Court of Appeals has reversed the verdicts of two juries that had ordered Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. to pay $42.6 million to a man and $150,000 to his mother, who were injured in a vehicle accident after a tire failure. The juries found against the tire maker in a trial last year, but the appellate court ruled 6-2 that the trial court had erred in several instances with regard to jury instruction and admissibility of evidence, according to a U.G. Tire spokeswoman.
One jury awarded nearly $18 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages to Franklin Ford III, who was 22 when he was injured in an August 1989 accident.
Mr. Ford's family's van was disabled on I-85 in Atlanta after a Stratton Technical Excellence SP-7000 tire-made by U.G. Tire-exploded and a separated tread wrapped around the vehicle's axle.
The Ford family opted to remain in the van because of the volume of traffic, and about 10 minutes later a station wagon struck the Ford vehicle, causing Mr. Ford to suffer severe brain damage.
A second jury hearing the same evidence awarded his mother, Claudia Ford, $150,000 in compensatory damages. That verdict also was overturned.
``There was nothing wrong with the tire, and it was accompanied by proper warnings and instructions,'' said a Uniroyal Goodrich spokesman. ``We believe that we will be exonerated if the cases are retried.''
The plaintiffs, however, filed a motion for reconsideration and will appeal the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court if necessary, said James Seifter, one of Franklin Ford's attorneys.