Arkansas Judge Sends Cooper Suit to Mexico - Tire Review Magazine

Arkansas Judge Sends Cooper Suit to Mexico

A lawsuit over a vehicle accident that occurred in Mexico is better heard in a Mexican court, U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes decided on Nov. 19.

The one-car crash took place in Mexico in December 2007, when a 1997 Ford Explorer left the road and entered a roll-over. One passenger was killed and several others injured, reported the Southeast Texas Record.

The passengers allege the accident was caused by the vehicle’s left rear tire suddenly separating from the tire body. The tire, a Cooper Discoverer H/T, was manufactured in Texarkana, Ark., in 2004.

Jose Cruz, individually and as a personal representative of the estate of deceased Irene S. Salas, and Irene Guerrero, Jorge Amezquita, and Miriam Amezquita filed suit against Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. on April 13 in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas, the newspaper reported.

Barnes issued an opinion and order on Nov. 19, granting Cooper’s motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. The motion argues that the Arkansas jurisdiction may be proper but that Mexico will be more convenient for the litigants and witnesses.
The defendant states that the accident location, reports and responding officers are all in Mexico and would be a significant burden to make them available in Arkansas. Further, Cooper Tire has agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of a Mexican court.

The plaintiffs claim Cooper knew the tire presented an unreasonably dangerous condition and that it possessed certain defects. The suit alleges the tire did not contain measures to prevent tread separation, specifically, it did not incorporate a "belt wedge," nylon cap ply, or nylon edge strips and failed to employ a high-halobutyl content inner liner.

Further, the plaintiffs argue that the tire did not incorporate an effective chemical to prevent premature aging of the tire materials and the tire was poorly bonded, allowing premature failure and tread separation.

Cooper notes that the driver of the vehicle was arrested shortly after the accident and tested positive for having alcohol in his system.

The plaintiffs are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

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