TRENTON, N.J. (Aug. 3, 2004) — Goodyear is under no obligation to hand over internal documents used in a personal injury case to two watchdog groups, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled.
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ) and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) sought release of Goodyear documents that were part of a settled lawsuit involving Goodyear Load Range E tires, claiming the documents might prove the tires inherently defective. A state district court authorized the release of 14 documents, but an appellate court overturned that decision. The state Supreme Court upheld the appellate court, ruling the public has no right to see confidential business documents from a court case.
In a prepared statement, Goodyear said it was pleased with the court's decision, adding it has always fully cooperated with plaintiffs' attorneys and the government in honoring their requests for documents. But Rebecca Epstein, a staff attorney for the TLPJ, said her group found the decision “particularly disturbing, because in general it means the public is completely unprotected when parties to a lawsuit agree to keep health and safety documents secret.”
The TLPJ and CARS have the option of filing a motion of reconsideration with the state Supreme Court or appealing directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ms. Epstein said.