ST. GEORGE, S.C. — A jury in a South Carolina product liability case involving a 2017 motorcycle accident has ruled in favor of defendant Michelin North America Inc.
The crash resulted in catastrophic injuries to the plaintiffs, Ron and Rose Nash, who were thrown from the motorcycle, a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1700, after a rear tire failure. Mr. Nash sustained permanent paralysis.
The Nashes sued Michelin in January 2019, alleging that the motorcycle's tire, a Michelin Commander II, size 180/65B1, was manufactured defectively. The tire was a replacement market replacement for the motorcycle's original equipment tire.
Plaintiffs' attorney William Applegate of Yarborough Applegate Law Firm L.L.C. said the tire failed due to an "open inner liner splice" manufacturing defect which can cause a tire to lose air pressure.
Michelin countered that the tire failed due to "severe underinflation and improper maintenance."
In their closing arguments, counsel for the plaintiffs suggested the jury award them $66 million in damages.
The jury's verdict was unanimous, Michelin noted. Court documents indicate the jury deliberated for about four hours before reaching their verdict.
In a prepared statement, Michelin said it "respects the work the jury did to reach its decision. While we sincerely regret this tragic accident and the devastating effects it has had on the Nash family, the evidence presented throughout the eight-day trial showed that the accident resulted from severe underinflation and improper maintenance of the Michelin tire, not a manufacturing defect.
"Michelin will continue to vigorously defend the world-class quality of its products and the high-level work of its engineers in these types of cases."
The case is Nash v. Michelin North America, 2019-CP-18-00080, in the Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial Circuit, Dorchester County, S.C.
Denver, Colo.-based law firm Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell L.P. represented Michelin in the case.
The Nashes originally included M.R. Cycles Inc., an Asheville, N.C.-based motorcycle dealership, in the suit as co-defendant. M.R. Cycles sold the Nashes the tire at the heart of the legal action in August 2013, according to the Nashes lawsuit.
It's not known of the Nashes are considering an appeal. Yarbourough Applegate did not reply to requests for comment.