And in a newly-released filing, Kurtz disclosed that “[Goodyear attorney Deboarah] Okey made a presentation to the Goodyear Board of Directors, including Mr. Kramer, in 2010 regarding G159 cases, and the Schalmo case in particular.”
The G159 was designed specifically for regional delivery trucks and manufactured between 1996 and 2003. An estimated 40,000 ended up on RVs made by 19 different RV makers. Court records indicate the tire failed on as many as one-in-10 motorhomes—a rate that surpasses the infamous Firestone tires of the 1990s that NHTSA deemed defective.
At least 41 lawsuits have been filed over crashes involving the tire, alleging the G159 was prone to heat-induced failure when used at highway speeds. The company secured settlements in nearly every case, which prohibited plaintiffs from sending information to regulators until a court order authorized the disclosure to NHTSA last summer, the agency has said.
Part of that has to do with Goodyear’s aggressive effort to settle cases, handled by company attorneys who withheld crucial data from plaintiffs, according to a federal judge’s ruling. Those tests include the high-speed test data that Goodyear contends made the G159 sufficient for use on RVs.
But the new records appear to show Goodyear’s narrative changing drastically over time.
By the early 2010s, even as it admitted the G159 sustained temperatures at highway speeds well in excess of 200 degrees, Goodyear leaned on the results of a study from ATSM International on commercial medium truck tires, which suggested tires can withstand temps above 300 degrees. The ATSM report didn’t involve the G159 tire in question.
The study, Goodyear product analysis manager Jim Stroble contended in a 2011 affidavit, “refutes Plaintiffs’ contentions that test temperatures should not exceed 194°F and that all tires that operate above 194°F will fail in service from belt separations.”
Stroble’s statement was a drastic departure from the 2007 testimony of a tire expert hired by Goodyear in the federal case Kurtz filed on behalf of the Haeger family, whose RV suffered a serious tire failure and wound up in a serious crash.“Once a tire exceeds a temperature at 200 degrees F, most commercial medium truck tires will begin to experience degradation of material properties that can lead to tread separation,” Jim Gardner, the expert, said, according to a filing from Kurtz.
A passage from a study authored by two Goodyear engineers.
We have known about the Goodyear Tire Blowouts For Over 9 Years now!
Lawyers have used our data.....our research and my comments to win cases for their clients.
However we have now discovered why after they settle they never have contact with us again and provide much needed funds to prevent others from getting killed by not only defective Goodyear Tires....but
By Defective Utility Trailers, Boat Trailers, Horse Trailers and Hitches
Our comment is Wells Fargo is fined 3 Billion Dollars for what they did with their banking practices but nobody was killed.
TAKATA Air Bags have killed about 20 .....with their defective air bags......and they get fined massively....Goodyear Tire G159 has killed and injured hundreds and they get a free pass......................
20th death from faulty Takata air bags reported by Honda
A faulty Takata air bag inflator has killed another person, this time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Honda said Tuesday night.
A Reporter To Me!
I will say, it is Very strange why (we) never hear about accidents concerning trailers, but yet, we'll hear about other accidents. That is strange!! With All the accidents on our hwys, (one) would think trailers would be covered. Yet they're not!
Facebook Is Censoring Our Life Saving Efforts
U.S. regulators want to find out which Goodyear officials were involved in assessing a possible defect in an RV tire that’s linked to at least 10 deaths and dozens of injuries. Newly-released documents obtained by Jalopnik provide an answer for Goodyear CEO Rich Kramer: he personally approved settlements of cases involving the dangerous tire failures as early as 2008, in filings that laid out the vast amount of complaints Goodyear had received over the tire.
The revelation was tucked away in billing records filed in an ongoing federal case involving the tire, the G159 275/70R 22.5. Kramer was named CEO of the whole company in 2010, but back in June 2007, when Kramer was President of the company’s North American unit, he was set to meet with one of Goodyear’s attorneys to discuss a case involving a Fleetwood RV that crashed after the vehicle’s left front tire separated. The crash left two of the vehicle’s six occupants dead.
“Email to [Goodyear attorney] D. Okey with brief description of case status for upcoming meeting with Rich Kramer,” the billing record states.
David Kurtz, the plaintiff’s attorney in the federal case, had previously stated that he had evidence that Kramer was “personally” aware of G159 failures. But the newly-released documents establish the earliest known dates that Kramer appears to have learned about issues with the G159, which has sparked two federal investigations and could pin Goodyear with a $105 million fine.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been probing allegations that the G159 was prone to heat-induced failure when used on RVs at highway speeds, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General has opened an investigation of its own that could lead to criminal charges. Records indicate that nearly 100 people have been injured or killed as a result of the G159 failing.
Goodyear declined a request for an interview and said it couldn’t answer specific questions pertaining to Kramer’s knowledge of the tire failures, nor anything about the tire itself.
In the settlement request memo, Goodyear’s attorneys pointed out that recently located test data showed that, in August 1996, the G159 passed Goodyear’s in-house tests to be rated at 65 mph, “but would not have satisfied Goodyear’s standard for qualifying the tire at 75 mph.” Test results a couple months later demonstrated the tire could satisfy the standard for 75 mph, but experts—including Goodyear engineers—have said these kinds of tires could be prone to failure at the temperatures it registered during Goodyear’s tests. Following the decision in 1998 to increase the G159's rating to 75 mph, failure claims and serious crashes involving the tire 1998 rapidly increased, records show.
No safety recall has ever been issued.
With the reams of evidence that could be presented in the Woods case, the settlement authority memo said: “Unfortunately, [the plaintiffs] will likely be able to introduce evidence of the numerous other lawsuits involving this tire on RVs, and the over four hundred property damage and bodily injury claims which Goodyear has received with respect to this tire while being used on Class A recreational vehicles.”
At the top of the memo, Goodyear’s attorney scribbled in a brief note next to a slate of signatures signing off on the request: “Rich Kramer agrees with this recommendation.”
Goodyear CEO Learned About Deadly RV Tire Failures As Early As 2008, Court Docs Suggest Ryan Felton
Filed to: goodyear tire & rubber
In 1971 J. Standard Baker Quoted " Drivers Towing Trailers Are Four (4) Times As Unsafe As Those In Cars Alone!
That lined up with testimony given by Richard Olsen, an engineer and company witness for Goodyear, in a September 2007, deposition. “I don’t want to indicate that 250 degrees is a line in the sand and say, under 250, okay, over 250, not okay... But temperatures in that area in a tire that [has] a significant amount of shear stress going on in the composite, to me, in my experience, would ultimately lead to some kind of tire disablement, yes,” Olsen said.
There’s also a study from 1988 published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, authored by two Goodyear engineers, which states that: “Tires are developed to withstand this equilibrium temperature which for radial heavy duty truck tires is a maximum of 90° Centigrade (194° Fahrenheit).”
“Exceeding this temperature for short periods of time is not a problem but exceeding it for long periods begins to cause loss of strength in the material components and eventually separation of the tire’s structure,” the authors said.
Goodyear itself told Monaco in a previously unreported October 2001 presentation it delivered on the G159 that the tires could suffer “possible separations due to tire overheating.’’
Goodyear’ argument in case after case has been that user-error is to blame for the accidents—overloading the vehicle, under-inflated tires, vehicle speeds, road hazards. But the question of whether Goodyear compromised the G159s safety margin when it increased the rating to 75 mph has come up time and again.
In June 1998, for example, Goodyear told RV manufacturer Fleetwood, in response to a question about the possibility of the G159's safety margin being compromised, that “Goodyear evaluates the test results and then determines whether to authorize 75 MPH or keep the tire at 65 MPH. To date if a tire did not meet our standards, the tire remained at a maximum speed rating of 65 MPH.”
The documents were made public by Kurtz last Friday as part of a yearslong battle with Goodyear, on behalf of the Haeger family, whose RV crashed in 2003. A separate G159 lawsuit in Arizona filed by Kurtz over the Haeger crash has drawn the interest from safety advocate groups like the Center for Auto Safety, which asked the judge in that case to unseal the record entirely. The case is currently being appealed to a higher court.
Jason Levine, the Center for Auto Safety’s executive director, said the new documents “confirm our long-held belief that Goodyear has been hiding deadly incidents involving their tires from the public and the U.S. government for many years.”
“Yet, our fight to bring full transparency regarding the dangers of the G159 tires, and the unconscionable actions of Goodyear up until this point, will continue,” Levine said. “Far too many documents remain under seal, and until the Arizona appeals court upholds the trial court’s ruling in our favor to release these documents and protect consumers, there is simply no way for anyone to be sure that Goodyear is not hiding more lifesaving information.”
Comments From The Article:
I just always think of that scene in Fight Club where he’s talking about the equation that drives recalls. Accurate then, accurate now.12
I was thinking the same thing.
The “price” of a life is often the result of a long equation that, initially, doesn’t involve money. If we all did the moral thing and said, “A single life is too costly a sum to do this thing,” then nobody would do anything. There’s always some risk in doing literally anything (including doing nothing, but that’s a deeper philosophical topic for the comments section of a car blog...). Where the price comes into the equation is when you evaluate the risk of a human life against the cost of doing business. It’s literally the fact that it’s a business that introduces the cost factor. If there were no money exchanging hands for goods and/or services, it would be balancing a life against what is being exchanged.
So, yeah. Literally everyone is performing multiple cost analyses against lives on a daily basis. Getting into your car to drive to work/shopping/etc.? What’s the risk that you’ll crash and kill someone or they crash into and kill you? Granted, it’s pretty low but that’s still a risk each and every one of us take on a daily basis. Making toast? Chances of electrocution, choking, poisoning, etc.
What makes this Goodyear case so sickening is that the cost analysis was so callous in the face of easy profits. By “certifying” the tire for an application that would almost guarantee catastrophic failure in the interest of additional sales/profits, they demonstrated their calculations were almost void of any consideration of the preservation of life.
Nobody is perfect. Tire failures happen for a variety of reasons. But this Goodyear case demonstrates a pattern of NOT doing the “right thing” from a moral perspective. They chose money over people in a pretty grotesque capacity.
For things like vaccines, sure, the needs of the many outweight the needs of the few, greater good, and all that.
For something that is a luxury, there is no reason a product should fail and kill people due to faulty design or company designated misuse over a few dollars per unit of cost savings.
I am not confident they did any cost analysis here at all much less a consider the “value” of human life. If they sold these tires at $300 a pop they only got $12 million in revenue, assuming they only sold 40,000 to RVs. Settlements have cost them easily over half of that amount plus their own legal expenses. They might view their internal legal council as a sunk cost but that should still be factored in here. Right off the bat we are only dealing with $6million left and we also have COGS for that tire and I am sure that is got to be 20-40% of the cost of the tire. so $60-$120 per tire which is up to $4.8 million in costs. Maybe their COGS are much lower and they make a higher margin, I am totally guessing here. They have additional time spent from executives dealing with these lawsuits which could have been spent elsewhere. So my napkin math is left with $1.2million and they still have more lawsuits to deal with and a possible fine from the government. I don’t believe that this was some massive cover up so they could pile up more money, there just isn’t any money in this for Goodyear. What I think is far more likely is that no one was looking at this at all. No one was looking at all of the data, all of the failures, and all of the costs. They would have jumped ship on that tire long ago. I don’t believe they have the proper processes in place or people to even analysis this data. Maybe they don’t care to know or maybe they don’t want the extra cost of having to pay someone.
There was an airline project manager once who was trying to fix a problem his company had with cost overruns due to flights being behind schedule. If you get behind schedule the extra fees from airports and the extra cost to accommodate passengers gets really high really fast. He was riding with flights and sometimes pushing them to move more quickly for take off. There was one plane that had under inflated tires, to make a very long story short he told the grounds crew to forget about it and handle it later since they were already late. The grounds crew gave false data to the pilots so they could sign off on the airworthiness of the aircraft and leave. The plane took off and blew its tires on the way out. The heat from those blown tires caused a fire that basically blew the plane up midair. Everyone died on that plane. You had a project manager who knew nothing about airline safety or what the potential consequences were making decisions in a vacuum. I think something similar could have happened with Goodyear. In this case it was executives making decisions solely based on information in front of them. They sign off on a settlement, forget about it and move on to the next thing. I don’t think anyone took ownership and looked into this issue any more than dealing with what was right in front of them. of course now I think they have been covering to hide the fact they didn’t put any effort into recognizing or addressing the issue in the first place.
exactly why goodyear shot to the top of my ‘don’t buy’ shitlist. it’s not a very long list, but goodyear is at the top...
Ash78, singing backup at the Mos Def Eisley CantinaRyan Felton
My morbid optimism is that at least this is one more company I can take off my shopping list.
Le MonjelloAsh78, singing backup at the Mos Def Eisley Cantina
Crossed off the list entirely, until the next time they run a sale that saves me $100 a wheel. Because I need that extra $400.
ReplyKing_squidAsh78, singing backup at the Mos Def Eisley Cantina
Yep, I never had great results with Goodyear anyway but now? Forget it I’ll stick with European brands thanks. If it works on the autobahn it will work in Canada.
ReplySilas Von DookiebirdLe Monjello
What would the deductible on a spinal fusion be?
they’d have to pay me to take tires. a minimum of $200/tire.
Still Deadpan Andre BraugherRyan Felton
How do some of these people sleep at night?! Frankly, $105 million isn’t nearly enough for this kind of malfeasance and blatant disregard for lives and safety.
MexicanWhoaRadioStill Deadpan Andre Braugher
I imagine they sleep in nice beds in big houses in gate communities.
The company paid that fine, not them.
ReplyThe Devil Drives a Mustang (Rotary Pending)Still Deadpan Andre Braugher
How do some of these people sleep at night?!
Type your paragraph here.
“Nothing is more important to Goodyear than the safety and quality of our products and the people who use them,” Goodyear spokesperson Jim David said in an emailed statement.
“Goodyear has a robust process for identifying potential safety-related defects in its products. We continuously monitor the manufacturing process and the performance of our products in the field. When potential issues or trends are identified, they are raised to the appropriate individuals and action is taken as necessary. We continue to believe that there is no safety-related defect with the G159 size 275/70R22.5 tire.”
“We are fully cooperating with NHTSA,” Davis continued. “Given the pending litigation and NHTSA investigation, we cannot address your specific questions.”
Kramer’s name appears again in March 2008, in a request by Goodyear’s attorney to settle a case involving the G159 for $3.62 million. (In total, the settlement memos show Goodyear paid about $6 million to settle three of the G159 cases.)
The crash involved the family of Billy Wayne Woods, whose 2001 Monaco Diplomat RV slammed into an embankment on a highway in Georgia, after the left front tire of their nearly 40-foot vehicle failed. Woods’ wife and his daughter-in-law suffered broken backs; his son a broken hip. Woods died several months later as a result of complications from the injuries he sustained in the crash.
From a settlement authority request.