LOS ANGELES (April 5, 2005) — A jury hearing a product liability suit in a Riverside County, Calif., circuit court has ruled that a Michelin LTX tire on a church van involved in a rollover crash in 2003 contained no manufacturing defects.
Six women who were members of a Catholic church in Phoenix received injuries of varying severity in the accident. After deliberating for less than four hours, the jury found St. Theresa's Parish – the owner of the vehicle — and the Archdiocese of Phoenix liable for the crash. The Archdiocese reportedly was ordered to pay the plaintiffs $2.38 million.
Thomas Dodson of Smithers Scientific Services Inc. in Akron, called by Michelin as an expert witness, testified that impact damage incurred some 1,000 miles before the accident caused the tire to fail.
“Michelin was confident of the facts of the case, and is pleased the jury saw that this tire was properly manufactured,” the Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker said in a prepared statement.
The plaintiffs claimed that when the tire was made in 1995 in Dothan, Ala., an unidentified contaminant was manufactured into the tire at some undetermined phase of the manufacturing process, leading to inadequate bonding of the tire components.
In his testimony, Mr. Dodson made it clear that so-called "process marks" can be found in any properly manufactured tire, and these marks do not disappear during the manufacturing process.
There was no immediate word on whether the plaintiffs planned to appeal.