PITTSBURGH — An Allegheny County (Pa.) jury has returned a $3.08 million verdict against Kumho Tire USA Corp. for a truck driver who suffered severe injuries in a 2014 accident linked to an allegedly defective Kumho-brand truck tire.
The plaintiff, Milford Stevens, sued Good Tire Service Inc. of Altoona, Pa., after suffering serious neurological and physical injuries, including fractures to his vertebrae, head and face, in the September 2014 accident. Mr. Milford's attorneys claim the tire, a Kumho Powerfleet 983, experienced a sudden tread failure, causing his fully loaded dump truck to crash and roll over.
Good Tire, which sold the tire to Mr. Stevens' employer, reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement separately and was dismissed from case, according the plaintiff's attorneys. Kumho Tire was added to the suit as a co-defendant after the initial filing.
In a prepared statement, Kumho Tire USA said:
"We respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict in this trial. The product met all federal safety standards and there was no manufacturing defect found. Kumho Tire is currently considering our next course of action in regards to this case."
Mr. Stevens was driving a 2007 Mack tri-axle dump truck, owned by Thomas Construction and loaded with over 72,000 pounds of sand, at highway speeds on U.S. 422 near Muddy Creek Township, Pa., according to the suit.
According to testimony in the case, the tread on the Kumho Powerfleet 983 tire, mounted on the vehicle's left front wheel position, separated, causing Mr. Stevens to lose control.
The Kumho Powerfleet 983 is described as a mixed-service, all-position tire. The tire on Mr. Stevens' truck was size 425/65R22.5, manufactured in 2010, according to the suit.
The suit does not state when the tire was purchased/installed nor how many miles it had been run.
During two weeks of trial testimony, trial lawyers Wes Ball and Skip Lynch of Kaster, Lynch, Farrar & Ball presented evidence they claim showed the tire was defective in design and should not have been placed on the market.
Among other things, the attorneys presented evidence they claim showed that the rubber compound around the tire's belts had insufficient antioxidant content, which they contended would have prevented the tire from premature failure due to oxidation issues.
Mr. Ball accused Kumho Tire USA of being "driven by profit rather than safety."
"Bad designs cause bad problems," he said. "Companies like this shouldn't be allowed to benefit from our system of trade while disregarding the safety of our citizens."