Michelin to Appeal U.S. Court Ruling - Tire Review Magazine

Michelin to Appeal U.S. Court Ruling

(Staffordshire, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) Michelin North America intends to appeal the decision of a circuit court in the state of Louisiana.

A jury awarded 54-year-old Drusilla Boudreaux $32.4 million after deciding Michelin was responsible for a 2002 accident in which she was paralysed.

Ms. Boudreaux was a passenger in a vehicle that skidded on a wet road, crashed and caught fire. The owner of the vehicle had recently purchased two new BFGoodrich tyres, which were installed on the car’s front axle.

The jury placed responsibility for Ms. Boudreaux’s injuries upon the tyremaker as they determined that it had not adequately informed all tyre retailers about the increased danger of aquaplaning should new tyres be fitted to the front axle of a vehicle rather than the rear. The plaintiff’s legal representatives attest that Michelin was aware that fitting new tyres to the front axle increased the risk, but the tyremaker only informed the large U.S. chain Costco of the potential danger.

Costco was sent a safety video and policy document. Attorney Carey Wicker told the court “when Costco enforced the policy, they lost 2% of their sales or about $10 million per year based on sales of 500 million tyres per year.” Wicker further argued that, “because of the customer backlash Michelin did not do the video or policy document with anybody else.”

Following the trial a Michelin spokeswoman said the company does not believe the tyres are at fault, and that Michelin had been so confident before the trial that there was not a problem involving the tyres that the verdict handed down was “a surprise.” The spokeswoman added that Michelin always advises all of its dealers to place new tyres on the rear axle in cases where four new tires are not purchased. She also noted that a local weatherman testified that the road wasn’t wet enough that night to induce hydroplaning, and that driver error was the main causative factor leading to the accident. 

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