Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has settled a wrongful death case in Mississippi Circuit Court.
``A very significant amount of money'' was involved in the settlement of the suit brought by Johnnie McGill and Dorothy Pace, according to Bruce Kaster, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys involved in the case.
Mr. McGill and Donald Pace, the husband of Dorothy Pace, were traveling in a 1984 Ford Bronco II equipped with Cooper tires in Yalobusha County, Miss., on April 11, 1999. The tread on one of the tires allegedly separated, causing the vehicle to roll over. Mr. Pace was killed and Mr. McGill seriously injured.
During the course of this suit, plaintiffs' attorneys accused Cooper of deliberately withholding documents. Judge Bobby DeLaughter agreed, and on July 30 ordered the Findlay, Ohio-based tire maker to release the requested documents, with the threat of hefty fines if it did not comply by the following day.
Some of the documents the plaintiffs' attorneys requested came from a recently settled tread separation case before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Cooper filed with the Arkansas court to block Judge DeLaughter's order, arguing that release of those documents would violate the Arkansas settlement agreement and cause the company irreparable harm.
But in his Aug. 9 decision, Judge George Howard Jr., the original judge in the Arkansas case, found that the plaintiffs' attorneys had not requested any documents defined as confidential by the settlement agreement. Furthermore, Judge Howard noted, it was the plaintiffs' attorneys, not Cooper, who provided the Arkansas court with a copy of Judge DeLaughter's order. Cooper officials could not be reached for comment on Judge Howard's decision and declined all comment on the Mississippi case except to confirm it had been settled.