ST. LOUIS-A St. Louis Circuit Court jury ordered Goodyear to pay a man more than $24 million for injuries he incurred when a light truck tire exploded and hit his head. Kevin L. Cole, the former owner of a trenching and excavation company, was awarded $7.8 million in actual damages (minus 25 percent for the portion of the accident the jury said was his fault) and $18.4 million in punitive damages.
A Goodyear spokeswoman said the company was attempting to move for a new trial and would appeal the case by Nov. 1.
Mr. Cole purchased the tire in 1988 from St. Louis-based Tire Mart, which was named as a co-defendant in the case. Goodyear said the tire, a 12-16.5 Super-Single Extra Grip, was built at its Gadsden, Ala., plant in February 1967.
Mr. Cole was mounting the tire on a pickup truck in February 1990 when it exploded. Goodyear said the plaintiff inflated the tire with a ``flammable substance'' to seat the bead. ``It was the use of the flammable substance that caused the explosion,'' the spokeswoman said.
But Mr. Cole, who filed suit against the tire maker in 1993, said defects in the tire's bead led to the explosion.
He has undergone numerous operations to rebuild facial bones and suffers from loss of hearing and a sense of smell, and brain damage. He asked for $320 million in damages.
Goodyear said the jury's decision is an example of a justice system gone awry.
``Huge penalties like this can be awarded like this whether the product was used as it should have been,'' the spokeswoman said. ``We do continue to be strong proponents of tort reform.''
``Penalties like this really drive up prices,'' the spokeswoman continued.