Superior Court Judge in Arizona Grants Center for Auto Safety’s Motion to Unseal Records from Goodyear G159 Tire Cases

In For Trial Lawyers, Legal Ethics & Professionalism, What's New in E-Discovery and Spoliation?, What's New in Product Liability Law?, What's New in the Courts by gravierhouseApril 3, 2018Leave a Comment

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) intervened into a wrongful death suit against Goodyear arising from defects in its G159 tire.  The Court granted CAS’s motion to unseal a large portion of the records that had been previously subject to a protective order, in that case and in several other similar cases.

“In the course of the ruling adopting the Protective Order, the Court found that ‘Goodyear has a legitimate interest in keeping its trade secrets and other confidential research, development and commercial information confidential from business competitors.’ The Court did not find that any of the information that Goodyear sought to protect was in fact a trade secret or commercially sensitive information. The plaintiffs did not object to the proposed protective order, so specific findings on that point were unnecessary.”

Protective orders were entered at Goodyear’s initiative in each case arising from the failure of a G159 tire in which Goodyear disclosed allegedly ‘confidential, proprietary technical and business information’.   “The protective order in this case, and all of the protective orders in the other G159 cases from which the parties collected information in discovery, are ‘blanket’ protective orders. A blanket protective order is entered without requiring the proponent of confidentiality to show that specific discovery documents contain information that would satisfy the ‘good cause’ standard of Rule 26(c).  Though the parties may stipulate to a ‘blanket’ protective order without a particularized showing of good cause, they cannot rely on such an order to hold records in confidence indefinitely.”

“The interests of comity do not call for this Court to defer to the other courts on issues concerning the merits of the protective orders. The orders were virtually all entered by agreement or without opposition, as opposed to being entered after an adversarial proceeding…. The interests of comity do not require this Court to send the litigants back to the issuing courts to seek modification, either. Goodyear is the only party to any of the cases that has a real stake in the outcome. All of the orders were entered at Goodyear’s request, on Goodyear’s template, to protect information disclosed by Goodyear. Requiring CAS to seek modification of each protective order in the jurisdiction in which it was entered would create an unreasonable burden. All of the underlying cases except Haeger I are closed, so sending this litigation to the courts that entered the orders would burden them, too, by requiring them to reopen their cases.”

“Goodyear’s legitimate need for confidentiality of the adjustment information relating to the G159 tire is reduced substantially, if not entirely eliminated, by the circumstances surrounding the tire. As noted in the Findings of Fact, the value of adjustment data for Goodyear’s competitors lies in its use as a marketing tool. Normally Goodyear would have the right to keep the data away from the competitors for that reason. But when the data could be interpreted to suggest that a product is dangerous, as it can here, non-disclosure becomes damage control, and the interest being protected is not competitive advantage but rather avoiding bad publicity and potential liability.  That observation applies especially to the lists of personal injury and property damage claims and the reports concerning those claims. Goodyear characterizes that information as ‘customer use data’ or ‘warranty data’ or ‘marketplace performance data.’ The plaintiffs would describe it as evidence of the number of people killed or injured by a defective tire.

“Goodyear’s need for confidentiality of information, whether or not directly related to the G159 tire, weighs less heavily than it otherwise might because of the breadth and lack of specificity of Goodyear’s confidentiality claim. As discussed generally in the Findings of Fact, Goodyear has demonstrated how the disclosure of various kinds of information can be competitively harmful. It has also shown which documents contain those kinds of information, though in some instances (particularly transcripts and court filings) it has not specified what kind of information appears where in the document. But what Goodyear has not done, anywhere, is to explain exactly how it stands to be harmed by the release of any specific identifiable document or piece of information. For example, Goodyear has not identified anything about its tire testing procedure that is proprietary or unique. In that sense Goodyear has failed to particularize its showing concerning its need for confidentiality. Goodyear’s need for confidentiality was recently diminished further by the decision of NHTSA to deny Goodyear’s request for confidential treatment of [plaintiff counsel’s] submission.  Mr. Kurtz’s submission includes much of the information, and many of the documents, for which Goodyear is claiming a right of confidentiality. As to that information and those documents, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Goodyear’s need to maintain the confidentiality of the information or materials produced pursuant to the protective order does not come close to outweighing the public’s need for access (through CAS) with respect to information that relates specifically to the G159 tire. .


That information – primarily concerning the tire’s design, its testing, the decision to market it for use on motor homes, and the adjustment data generated by consumer experience with it – should be made public because it relates to and reveals a substantial potential risk to public health or safety. Moreover, by comparing the information that was disclosed in different cases, the public will be able to judge for itself whether the misuse of protective orders enabled the misconduct described by Judge Silver.*  Goodyear’s need to maintain the confidentiality of the information or materials produced pursuant to the protective order does not outweigh the public’s need for access (through CAS) with respect to information concerning Goodyear’s internal policies and procedures, and its interactions with NHTSA. Disclosure of that information is necessary to enable the public to understand G159-specific information, such as the adjustment data. The information will also help the public understand how and why this happened at Goodyear, and what measures (if any) should be taken to ensure it does not happen again.”

 

Estate of Haeger v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No.2013-052753 (Ariz. Super. Ct. Maricopa County April 3, 2018) (bold added) (italics in original)

 

* In Haeger I, Judge Silver found that Goodyear and its attorneys “made repeated, deliberate decisions . . . to delay the production of relevant information, make misleading and false in-court statements, and conceal relevant documents,” for the purpose of avoiding liability to the Haegers based on the failure of a G159 tire. Haeger v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., 906 F.Supp.2d 938 (2012). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Silver’s findings, including her finding that Goodyear “participated directly in the discovery fraud.” Haeger v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, 813 F.3d 1233, 1243-1246 (9th Cir. 2016), reversed on other grounds 137 S.Ct. 1178 (2017).

Arizona Judge Rules that Goodyear Cannot Keep Court Documents on Possible Deadly Defect Secret

newmediamill April 4, 2018 Latest Alerts, Tires 830 Views

For immediate release:
April 4, 2018
Contact: Aidan O’Shea, Public Justice – aoshea@publicjustice.net, (202) 861-5240
Michael Brooks, Center for Auto Safety – mbrooks@autosafety.org 202-328-7700
 Arizona Judge Rules that Goodyear Cannot Keep Court Documents on Possible Deadly Defect Secret
Goodyear tried to hide documents related to possible deadly defect in tires still on the road
 

An Arizona judge ruled today that Goodyear cannot continue to keep court documents relating to an alleged deadly defect in Goodyear tires secret. The ruling comes in Haeger v. Goodyear, a case alleging that the company not only sold defective tires, but knew about the defect, intentionally concealed it, and lied to the public—and the court—for years in an effort to keep it secret. The case settled last year, but thousands of documents regarding the alleged defect—and Goodyear’s efforts to cover it up—remained secret. The Center for Auto Safety (CAS), represented by Public Justice, intervened in the case to request that the documents be made public.

Today, the court granted that request.

The court wrote: “Goodyear’s need to maintain the confidentiality of the information or materials produced pursuant to the protective order does not come close to outweighing the public’s need for access (through CAS) with respect to information that relates specifically to the G159 tire.  That information — primarily concerning the tire’s design, its testing, the decision to market it for use on motor homes, and the adjustment data generated by consumer experience with it — should be made public because it relates to and reveals a substantial potential risk to public health or safety.”

“This is a victory for transparency and for public safety. Companies should not be able to enlist the courts in concealing information about the possibility that their product contains a dangerous defect—information that if revealed might save lives,” said Public Justice Staff Attorney Jennifer Bennett.

“This decision is a rare example in today’s judicial environment of a court protecting people over the auto industry,” said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety.  “For too long we have seen this industry hide information about defects which, if they had been made public, would have saved lives and prevented serious injuries. By ruling this information should not be kept secret, the court has sided with the public’s need for vital information about defective tires to prevent more tragedies like the Haegers and other families have suffered.”

The underlying case was brought by the Haeger family, several members of whom were seriously injured in a 2003 RV crash in Arizona. That crash was one of dozens involving Goodyear’s G159 tires, according to the Arizona Republic. The Republic’s reporting shows that “the company received more than 614 claims involving accidents that resulted in death, injury or damage” nationwide, thirty-five of which happened in Arizona. Despite this, Goodyear has never recalled the G159 tires, and they remain on the road today.

In a 2012 ruling in a related case, a federal judge found that Goodyear and two of its lawyers had made “repeated, deliberate decisions . . . to delay the production of relevant information, make misleading and false in-court statements, and conceal relevant documents.”  Access to the G159 tire-related documents granted by the court today may reveal a dangerous safety defect in tires being used right now.

On April 3, 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defect Investigation took another step in its previously announced investigation of the G159 tires. NHTSA submitted a detailed information request to Goodyear seeking details not only about the G159, but about the tires Goodyear used to replace the G159 model. The request noted allegations of deaths and injuries associated with the G159 tires based on information already made public – which may not even include the allegations of deaths or injuries that are in the documents ordered to be made public by the court today.


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Very soon all the people who have tried to destroy our life saving mission will be known as soon as the Arizona Appeals Court Upholds the release of hundreds of Non-Disclosure Court Settlements and the families who took “Hush Money” and resulting in other innocent men, women and children getting killed


The Fastest way to stop a person from a mission trying to save lives is to find creative ways to defund him...
"Ron J. Melancon"


Superior Court Judge in Arizona Grants Center for Auto Safety’s Motion to Unseal Records from Goodyear G159 Tire Cases
Listen up...I do believe that Goodyear....and or "Hidden Operatives" working under the umbrella of Goodyear or it's Interest's.....have possibly influenced operatives in Banking, Government And Washington D.C. to find creative ways to harass us....intimidate us......and try to make us give up.....knowing full well that I would have no way to prove our case.
They Knew I Knew Back In 2009! I have the Accident that got me interested in why "RV Tires Are Blowing out"
I Quote " But when the data could be interpreted to suggest that a product is dangerous, as it can here, non-disclosure becomes damage control, and the interest being protected is not competitive advantage but rather avoiding bad publicity and potential liability. "
They tried to destroy our cause...I believe...through "Hidden Operations"
Why is it taking so long to get this "Vital" Safety Information released....Why do they still try and hide this information?
Does Goodyear not believe in "God" They Are not God....but they almost destroyed our cause......Through Hidden Operatives knowing I could and don't have the resources to prove our beliefs...


We Ask....Are they going to let Goodyear Tire off the hook and hope we forget about all of this and take 5 years to get resolution to this case? 

NHTSA INVESTIGATION-- Memo What Is Taking So Long To Do Anything In Washington D.C.?

Example they went FULL STEAM with TAKATA Air Bags Right?

FULL STEAM  with Firestone right?

FULL STEAM with IKEA Furniture falling on kids in their own homes right?

But Nothing? Nothing?  Nothing on Goodyear but paperwork...and paperwork and all the while people with MONEY and power are finding ways to harass our life saving cause knowing full well we can never prove who is really behind the destruction of my family.

 In 1971 J. Standard Baker Quoted " Drivers Towing Trailers  Are Four (4) Times As Unsafe As Those In Cars Alone!