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Michelin Must Face Lawsuit on Fatal Crash Involving Used Tire, Texas Court Rules

A Texas appellate court rejected Michelin North America Inc.’s bid to escape a lawsuit involving a 2015 fatal accident allegedly caused by a defect in one of its tires.

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A Texas appellate court rejected Michelin North America Inc.’s bid to escape a lawsuit involving a 2015 fatal accident allegedly caused by a defect in one of its tires.

Michelin says that the tire involved in the case – a Uniroyal Tiger Paw Freedom – was sold as a used tire from a “third party wholly unrelated to MNA (Michelin North America).”

The lawsuit, filed by Texas resident Brenda Isela Lopez de Santiago, states that while Lopez was in the passenger seat of her 2002 Honda CR-V SUV, the right back tire on the car failed, causing a rollover accident. Lopez, who was not driving the car at the time, was injured in the crash, and her daughter, who was in the back seat, died.

Lopez claims that the car came with Uniroyal tires already installed, and they had already been used at the time of purchase. She alleged both in her pleadings and
in an affidavit that the tire was previously purchased in Texas and that no one at the car dealership ever replaced the tires.

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Michelin argued that because an intervening retail customer removed the tire from the stream of commerce and then sold the tire again in a secondary market before it ended up on Lopez’s car, that itself and its distributor are not liable for the accident under the lawsuit.

The Texas Eighth Court of Appeals said this week it was unconvinced by Michelin’s argument, saying in an opinion “Michelin failed to refute the plaintiff’s claim that the original tire sale took place in Texas, and the secondary sale here arose from and related to that Texas-based initial sale.”

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A Michelin North America spokesman said the company is evaluating its options based on the court’s decision, and the company “remains confident in its position on this matter based on our belief that certain aspects of the law remain unclear.”

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