ATLANTA (Dec. 12, 2002)—A product liability case against Bridgestone/Firestone may proceed although the plaintiff destroyed the evidence, the Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled.
Ross Campbell claims that tread separations on Firestone Firehawk tires caused the rollover of his Nissan Pathfinder in October 1998. However, Mr. Campbell originally decided not to sue, and therefore had a forensic tire engineer chop up the tires after examining them for possible defects. Meanwhile, Mr. Campbell's insurer junked the vehicle.
A Fulton County, Ga., trial judge ruled the case could continue despite this, and the appeals court ruled that judge didn't abuse his discretion by doing so. The appeals court ruled it would allow into evidence photos of the tires before they were destroyed, but not the expert testimony from the tire engineer 's examinations.
A BFS spokesman said the tire maker was disappointed in the ruling. “It's difficult to see how we can defend our product when every piece of evidence is destroyed,” he said.