Here we go again! On March 7, 2012, Goodyear issued a partial recall of its Wrangler Silent Armor tire line due to tread separation propensity. Goodyear Announces Recall. Tragically, at least two people had to die in an accident involving the Goodyear Silent Armor tires before Goodyear acted to recall the dangerous products, despite the fact that Goodyear has long known that there is a problem with the brand. Goodyear now admits that the tire line began to exhibit a problem in the field all the way back to May of 2010 — almost two years ago.
After the huge Firestone recall of Wilderness AT and ATX tires in 2000 and 2001, the federal government began forcing tire companies to collect what is known as “early warning data.” The legislation requires that tire companies maintain and report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a running total of all claims of tire failures involving injury or damage, so that companies like Firestone and Goodyear cannot later claim that they had no idea they had a problem in the field. Goodyear says that its mandated collection of Early Warning Data for the Silent Armor brand showed an elevated failure rate as early as May of 2010. Goodyear saw further evidence of a problem in the ensuing months, but apparently decided to wait until people started dying to finally recall the tire. Unfortunately, ever (non) vigilant NHTSA also ignored the data that Goodyear was sending to them, and did not require action from Goodyear sooner in the form of a recall or other warning to consumers. As with the Toyota Sudden Accleration problem that was ignored by NHTSA for years as discussed in our most recent blog entry, lawyers like Ewusiak & Roberts learned a long time ago that failure of the government to act concerning a defective product does not mean there is no problem.
Ironically, Goodyear advertised the Silent Armor as an especially robust, higher end tire. In this regard, the tread package of the tire was touted as being especially rough and tough to withstand road hazards. This sounds eerily familiar to the problem Goodyear suffered a few years ago with its G159 RV tires. Goodyear advertised the G159 as having an especially thick and robust tread package, making the tire ideal for urban delivery vehicles such as UPS or FedEx trucks. The idea was to build a tire that could stand up to pot holes and curbs found in city driving. But then Goodyear shamelessly promoted the same tire for use on RVs, which commonly see lengthy highway runs. As explained in our recent blog entry, Goodyear was just sanctioned by a federal court for concealing internal testing data that showed that the tire with such a configuration ran too hot on the highway during continuous use. What may have been a great tire on a UPS truck, was a tragedy waiting to happen on an RV. No one has seen the evidence yet, but we’ll bet that the Goodyear Silent Armor runs hot due to its advertised thick tread package, and that the company should have seen this problem coming for years especially after what happened with the G159 tire. Of course none of this has stopped Goodyear so far from blaming the consumer victims for the tire failures, as it always seems to do.
Unfortunately, this is only a partial recall of the tire line. Goodyear is recalling the tires made only at its Fayetteville plant in South Carolina. We at Ewusiak & Roberts wonder if it’s just a coincidence that more than a dozen employees of that plant were arrested recently for running a drug ring out of the facility itself. See story here. Many more of these Silent Armor tires remain on the road and time will tell whether Goodyear has been honest about the scope of its problem with that brand. In our experience, many recalls that begin small ultimately become much larger only after more people die. Tire recalls are expensive and it seems that runaway corporate greed has become part and parcel of our culture.
Ewusiak & Roberts handles complex product defect cases, including tire failure cases all around the country. Chris has personally handled dozens of such cases to successful conclusion, including cases in Texas, Florida, California, New Mexico, Arizona and other states. In the summer of 2010, Chris Roberts was lead counsel in a tread separation defect case against Goodyear involving the Goodyear G159 RV tire. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Chris’ clients after a two week trial, awarding $5.6 Million to the family. This was the third largest verdict in the county’s (Pasco) history. Joel and Chris are available for free consultation to discuss your product defect case. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 727-724-5796. You can learn more about our firm here. www.erlitigators.com.