JACKSON, Miss. (July 31, 2002)—A Mississippi circuit judge has ordered Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. to turn over a long list of documents—including documents produced in a highly publicized Arkansas wrongful death case—to the plaintiffs' attorneys in a new case.
“Cooper Tire has engaged upon a course of conduct exhibiting an attitude that it does not have to provide documents or even the barest information about them unless and until plaintiffs discover from other sources that they exist,” wrote Judge Bobby DeLaughter in his decision, which also fines Cooper $10,000 a day for every day after July 31 that they do not provide the documents.
In a prepared statement, Cooper accused trial lawyers of “attempting to put companies back on their heels and making it nearly impossible to comply with rulings/requests and try the cases on their merits.”
The company is reviewing its options, it added.
The current case, before the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Miss., involves the lawsuit brought by Dorothy Pace and Johnnie McGill emanating from an accident in Yalobusha County, Miss. on April 11, 1999. A 1984 Ford Bronco II equipped with Cooper tires turned over that day, because of an alleged tread separation. Mr. McGill, a passenger in the vehicle, was severely injured, and Donald Pace, the driver and Dorothy Pace's husband, was killed.
In the Pace-McGill case, Judge DeLaughter noted that plaintiffs' attorneys requested the documents from Cooper Feb. 9, 2001. Cooper responded that March 13, “objecting to virtually every request and failing to provide any substantive information about its tires or the processes used in designing, manufacturing or evaluating them—even concerning its tires within the same 'green tire' specifications of the particular tire in this case,” the judge wrote in his decision.