WASHINGTON (Nov. 30, 2000)—In addition to the preliminary investigation of Goodyear-manufactured Load Range E light truck tires recently announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Akron-based tire maker also faces a new class-action lawsuit over the same tires.
Two law firms—Washington-based Cohen Milstein Hausfield & Toll PLLC and Carey & Danis LLC in St. Louis—jointly filed a class-action suit against Goodyear on Nov. 16 in the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit of Madison County, Ill., in Edwardsville, Ill.
The suit alleges Goodyear and Kelly-brand load range E and D tires for light trucks and recreational vehicles are defective.
Goodyear has left "millions of tires on the road in which the defect has not been addressed or corrected," said Gary Mason, a partner at Cohen Milstein, in a press release.
"Our complaint is parallel to the NHTSA investigation," Mr. Mason told Tire Business.
Cohen Milstein, which specializes in consumer product liability and class-action litigation, also is involved with litigation against Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., he said, and the firm played a prominent role in the California case which led a judge to order the recall of 1.7 million Ford vehicles for allegedly faulty ignition modules.
Mr. Mason said the problem with Goodyear load range E tires is similar to that cited with some of the 6.5 million Firestone tires which Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. voluntarily recalled. "The lack of a nylon band or cap on the tire is essentially a defect in the design of these (Goodyear) tires," he said.
Goodyear recognized the problem several years ago and began putting a nylon band in load range E tires, he said, and has been replacing tires without question for any customer who complains.
"They (Goodyear) appear to have engaged in what is known to NHTSA and consumer lawyers as a silent recall," he said.
A Goodyear spokesman responded saying the lawsuit is based on "a mistaken premise of defective tires that was fueled by previous misleading media reports."
"This is yet another prime example of attorneys attempting to use the media to influence public opinion and the courts with no regard for the facts," he said.
The products referred to in the complaint have been proven to be durable reliable, both in analysis and field performance, the spokesman added,
Goodyear also said it will work closely with NHTSA on the preliminary investigation and is providing documents in a timely manner.
The lawsuit was filed in Illinois because one of Cohen Milstein´s clients lives there, Mr. Mason said. However, he also admitted, "Madison County is considered by plaintiff´s lawyers as a jurisdiction that´s favorable to them."
Last year, a class-action suit against Sears Roebuck and Co. was filed in the same county court seeking compensation for millions of customers who paid Sears for tire-truing services that allegedly were not performed. That case is still pending.
Noting the Firestone recall and about 25 cases pending against the Cooper Tire and Rubber Co., Mr. Mason said: "We think we´re seeing an industry-wide problem here."