The Tragic Legacy of the G159
Dubbed by some “the worst tire made in history”, the Goodyear G159 was made specifically for recreational RVs—the kind you take on camping trips or travel cross country with. It’s true that when major accidents happen, they generally happen with tires made for larger vehicles. This includes trucks, RVs, buses, and transit vans.
Such was the case for the Wright family. In 1999, Jim Wright was traveling with his wife Joyce along the freeways of New Mexico. The driver’s side tire failed causing Jim to lose control of his RV. His wife died in the ensuing crash when a piece of glass penetrated her skull after the RV slammed into another RV.
Wright was driving a 1995 Fleetwood American Eagle. The RV that he crashed into was a 1997 Fleetwood driven by Belgian tourist, Gilbert Van Hesse, who was visiting the U.S. with his wife for their 40th anniversary. Van Hesse lost his wife that day too.
These were the 11th and 12th deaths related to the G159.
Goodyear Eventually Issues a Recall
It wouldn’t be until to 2002 that Goodyear would issue an advisory concerning the tire. This is after Goodyear had faced 20 wrongful death and injury lawsuits concerning the tire. Goodyear has never issued a recall.
According to studies conducted by Goodyear, the tire was prone to “heat-induced failure” that made unsuitable for RVs. So why didn’t Goodyear issue a recall? Did they sit on potentially damaging information about the tire? Did this lead to preventable deaths?
In cases like these, much the same as a Takata Airbag lawsuits, if a company knows that a product is potentially dangerous and chooses not to issue a broadscale recall of their product and this leads to preventable injuries and deaths, the company can be subjected to gross negligence charges that see plaintiffs awarded punitive damages.
Echoes of Takata
The reason why this lawsuit infuriated consumers all over the world is that Takata knew that the airbags were defective in certain conditions. Much like Goodyear’s G159, Takata airbags were sensitive to hot and humid climates. Takata responded to numerous claims against their product by paying plaintiffs hush money in sealed settlements. This went on and on until 22 people were killed, 15 in the U.S. Numerous others were injured.
Goodyear used much the same tactic. After the advisory bulletin was sent out, another 57 injury and death cases were attributable to the G159 tire. To date, nearly 100 people have been injured or killed due to failures of the tire.
In addition, Goodyear failed to disclose the full scope of their tire’s failure rate. They did not provide the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) with data pertaining to cases in which there was only property damage and under-reported the number of injuries and deaths resulting from the tire. The NHTSA has recently opened an investigation into the tire.
Goodyear still denies that there are any safety issues with the tire. They claim that Wright’s tire was underinflated and this led to the blowout.
Talk to a Tire Litigation Attorney
If you’ve suffered an injury due to a defective tire, the attorneys at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert, P.A. in Coral Gables can help. Give us a call or contact us online for a free case evaluation.