WASHINGTON—In addition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) preliminary investigation of Goodyear load range E light truck tires, the tire maker is facing a new class-action lawsuit over the same tires.
Two law firms—Washington-based Cohen Milstein Hausfield & Toll P.L.L.C. and Carey & Danis L.L.C. in St. Louis—jointly filed a class-action suit against Goodyear Nov. 16 in the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit of Madison County, 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 of 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 that 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 that BFS 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 said 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 proved to be durable and reliable, both in analysis and field performance, he added.
Goodyear said it will work with NHTSA on the preliminary investigation.
The lawsuit was filed in Illinois because one of Cohen Milstein's clients lives there, Mr. Mason said. However, he also said "Madison County is considered by plaintiffs' lawyers as a jurisdiction that's favorable to them."
Noting the Firestone recall and cases pending against the Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Mr. Mason said: "We think we're seeing an industrywide problem here."