WASHINGTON (April 16, 2001)—Juries clobbered Continental General Tire Co. and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in product liability cases.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury ordered Conti General to pay Cynthia Lampe and her family nearly $55.4 million in damages for the June 1996 accident in which a General AmeriTech ST tire on the left rear of Ms. Lampe's Ford Taurus suffered tread separation.
The vehicle hit an embankment on Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas; Ms. Lampe was rendered paraplegic in the crash, and her mother and boyfriend were injured.
Meanwhile, a county court jury in El Paso awarded $10 million to the relatives of four people killed in a 1997 van rollover accident when a Sigma radial tire made by Cooper failed.
Both companies denied their tires were at fault in the accidents and said they will appeal. "Numerous evidentiary rulings, including those related to the manufacturing defect issue, were wrong and prejudicial," Conti General said in a prepared statement.
In its own statement, Cooper said "the driver's cocaine impairment plus the pre-accident puncture of the tire" were key factors in the fatal crash.