BUTTE, Montana (March 9, 2010) — Custom wheel and tire importer MKW Alloy Inc. has settled a product liability lawsuit with a Montana couple involving the death of their son in a 2006 traffic accident allegedly linked to a defective wheel MKW had imported from South Korea.
The details of the settlement are not public, according to Torger Oaas, the Lewistown, Mont., attorney who represented Ted and Sherri Nichols on behalf of their son Theodore Nichols.
The couple had sought $6.9 million in damages over the June 23, 2006, accident that killed Theodore “Ted” Nichols, 19, near Ramsay, Mont. The younger Mr. Nichols was riding in a pickup truck driven by his friend Casey Pesanti, who was 20 at the time of the accident. Mr. Pesanti missed a curve, lost control of his vehicle and struck a utility pole.
The suit claimed that a wheel imported from South Korea by MKW Alloy failed on Mr. Pesanti's truck, and the company was responsible for the allegedly defective wheel. MKW argued that driver impairment and negligence—not the wheel—caused the accident.
Mr. Pesanti's blood-alcohol concentration at the time of the accident was .11, which was over the legal limit of .08. He pleaded guilty in November 2006 to two felony counts of criminal endangerment and one misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, and received a four-year deferred sentence.
The trial began March 2 in a state district court in Butte. The suit was settled on the third day of trial, Mr. Oaas told Tire Business.
An attorney for MKW said he was not authorized to make a statement for the company on the settlement, but did reconfirm that its details are not public.