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Home / Top Legal News / Tire maker to pay $1.75M in wrongful death case 

Tire maker to pay $1.75M in wrongful death case 


The parents of a truck driver who was killed after an accident on a North Carolina interstate has negotiated a $1.75 million settlement with a tire manufacturer, the parents’ attorneys report. 

James A. Roberts III and Matthew D. Quinn of Lewis & Roberts in Raleigh represented the parents of truck driver, whose vehicle suffered a sudden and catastrophic failure of the front passenger side tire resulting in a jackknife and collision with a tree. The 2017 accident apparently occurred due to tread and belt separation which the family contended was a result a design defect which left a negligently manufactured belt assembly and an inner lining that was too thin.  

The names of all of the parties in the case were kept confidential as part of the mediated settlement. 

Roberts said that settlement usually isn’t easy in such cases, and the defendants denied that the tire was defective and argued that the truck driver may have underinflated it. 

“Tire manufacturers typically don’t roll over,” Roberts said. “They fight.” 

The litigation was subject to several significant hurdles which frequently bedevil plaintiffs in tire defects cases, the attorneys said. The tire manufacturer was a foreign corporation, and so the bulk of the case documents were in a foreign language, it was difficult to obtain service of process, and the defendants raised a “formidable” personal jurisdiction defense. Also, despite the assistance of the tractor-trailer’s owner, little was known about the tire’s maintenance history, chain-of-custody, or condition. 

But expert testimony was helpful in showing that the belt and lining were the true cause of the problem, and x-rays of the tire were a key piece of evidence, the attorneys said. 

“It was completely out of line, and the x-ray photographs really showed that quite clearly,” Quinn said. “We felt confident that, had we needed to go in front of a jury, we could have helped the jury to understand what happened with this tire based on that evidence.” 

The attorneys said that testimony and photos from law enforcement was also an important part of the case, with two of the responding officers identifying tire failure as the cause and indicating that the driver’s reaction didn’t contribute to the accident. 

The graphic photos, which Quinn called “difficult to look at,” also could have proved decisive in front of a jury. 

When you understand that he survived for four minutes plus you have a visual of the injuries that he suffered, it was particularly powerful,” Quinn said. “Anybody who looked at it, their heart would have really gone out to the decedent and his family.” 

The parent’s economist estimated their son’s future income at just over $1 million, with $200,000 in loss of services to his parents. The defendants had also contested damages, the attorneys said, and argued that the driver was overweight, smoked and had diabetes. 


Amount: $1.75 million 

Injuries alleged: Death 

Case name: Confidential 

Court: Confidential 

Special damages: $1.022 million in future earnings, $200,000 in care and services to heirs, $10,000 in funeral expenses 

Most helpful experts: David Southwell (tires), Wayne McCraken (accident reconstruction), and J.C. Poindexter (economics) 

Insurance carrier: Confidential 

Attorneys for plaintiff: James A. Roberts III and Matthew D. Quinn of Lewis & Roberts in Raleigh 

Attorneys for defendant: Confidential 

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