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Jury awards $4.3M to victims of Dunlop defective tires | Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, LLP

Our new partner, Terry McCartney, was lead counsel on the following case at his former firm in New York:

After a successful appeal, Terry tried and won a case on behalf of four passengers of a car with a defective tire. The case was initially thrown out by the court but, after getting that decision overturned on appeal, the case was brought to trial. In a fairly conservative county in the Southern Tier of Upstate New York, the Binghamton jury returned with a $4.3 million verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.

This case arose from a motor vehicle accident that occurred on Interstate 81 in Broome County, New York. There were five women in a Toyota Land Cruiser driving from Queens, New York to Montreal for a religious event. Two of the women were the mothers of two of the others and the fifth was a friend of the daughters. The driver and the front seat passenger, two of the younger women, were wearing their seat belts but the three back seat passengers, the two moms and the friend, were not. While traveling on Interstate 81 outside of Binghamton at highway speeds, the left rear tire on the vehicle suddenly failed and the SUV careened out of control. The Land Cruiser eventually tripped on the paved surface and rolled over 4 times, ultimately ejecting all three of the unbelted rear seat passengers. One of the ejected women died while the others all suffered serious injuries of varying degrees. The case went to trial in March of 2012.

After three weeks of trial, the Broome County jury found Dunlop Tire Corporation strictly liable for a manufacturing defect in its tire that caused a total tread separation from the tire carcass resulting in the single vehicle rollover accident. The jury also found Dunlop breached its implied warranty that the tire was reasonably fit for its ordinary purpose. Despite the seat belt non-use issues for three of the plaintiffs and the seemingly “really bad accident,” Terry convinced the jury to place 100% of the liability on Dunlop and award each plaintiff damages according to her injuries or death. In total, the four plaintiffs received over $4.3 million. That was the record verdict personal injury verdict in Broome County at the time.

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