In 1971 J. Standard Baker Quoted " Drivers Towing Trailers Are Four (4) Times As Unsafe As Those In Cars Alone!
Center for Auto Safety Challenges Goodyear Tire’s Confidentiality Claims
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2017
Contact: Jason Levine, (202) 328-7700, JLevine@autosafety.org
Center for Auto Safety Challenges Goodyear Tire’s Confidentiality Claims
Center Submits FOIA Request to Make Secret Documents Public
Washington, D.C.—Today, the Center for Auto Safety submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeking documents claimed to be confidential by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in connection with a Preliminary Evaluation opened on December 28, 2017 into Goodyear tires for RVs.
The Preliminary Evaluation (PE17-009) into G159 tire failures on class-A motor homes indicates that NHTSA obtained data alleging these tires caused deaths or personal injuries. Based on the number of claims, NHTSA notes that the failures “may stem from a safety related defect.” Yet, because of Goodyear’s claims, NHTSA’s Failure Report Summary states that all the information from Goodyear is “confidential.” The G159 tires have been the subject of multiple lawsuits, including one alleging almost 100 related deaths and injuries. Goodyear has been fighting to keep this information from the public for years, going so far as to have been found by a federal court to have made “repeated, deliberate decisions” to “make misleading and false in-court statements and conceal relevant documents.”
“Whether in state court or here in Washington, DC, the Center for Auto Safety will fight for the right of the public to access vital information about the safety of their vehicles including the tires on which we all depend to keep us connected with the road,” said Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety. “In this case, Goodyear has been fighting to keep this information away from the public and NHTSA for over 20 years, most likely to the detriment of RV drivers, passengers, and everyone else on the highway. This FOIA request seeks to peel back the claims of confidentiality on a host of documents that have previously been made public and therefore can be subject to no legitimate expectation of confidentiality,” Levine added.
Despite previous publication of many documents relating to the G159 tires and crashes, injuries, and deaths in courtrooms and newspapers across the country, Goodyear continues to claim almost all information relating to these dangerous tires must be kept secret and hidden from the American people by the U.S. government. The Center has joined a legal action in Arizona against Goodyear (Goodyear v Haeger) to make this vital safety information public, as these tires remain on the road today and present a clear and present danger to those using them on their Recreational Vehicles, and those with whom they share the road.
Among the documents the Center seeks on behalf of its members and all consumers are:
Death, Injury, and Property damage claims
Correspondence between NHTSA and Goodyear
Tire endurance testing and field performance data
Over the last 48 years the Center for Auto Safety has successfully led the fight for lemon laws in every state, airbags in every vehicle, and recall repairs being made at no cost to the consumer. The Center is a membership-driven organization headquartered in Washington, DC and is also home to the Safe Climate Campaign, which fights global warming by working for big, specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Center is also the publisher of The Car Book, which has for the last 38 years been America’s most comprehensive car buying guide. To learn more about the Center please visit www.AutoSafety.org.
Judge: Goodyear deceptive in defense of flaws in tireDennis Wagner, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 8:56 a.m. MT Sept. 3, 2015
On June 14, 2003, the Haeger family of Tucson was traveling in a motor home on Interstate 25, en route to a medical symposium in New Mexico, when the right front tire blew.
LeRoy Haeger, 70, who was at the wheel, could not control the 38-foot-long RV as it swerved off the freeway and tumbled over an embankment, skidding on its side.
The Haeger’s Great Dane flew through the windshield, injured but alive.
When the screeching ended and the dust settled, LeRoy was trapped against the steering wheel, which had to be sawed off by emergency workers. According to court records, his right leg was torn nearly apart below the knee. He had a dislocated elbow, plus chest and abdominal injuries. He would undergo 17 surgeries and deal with chronic pain until his death from cancer five years later.
LeRoy’s wife, Donna, and daughter-in-law, Suzanne, were pinned in the motorhome until rescuers freed them.
Donna, 69, suffered fractures to a wrist, an ankle and five toes. Her jaw was broken and had to be wired shut for months. She suffered permanent facial nerve damage that affects speech and eating. Suzanne, 42, sustained head trauma, a crushed arm and wounds that left scars on her chest, arms and hands.
Barry Haeger, LeRoy’s 45-year-old son, escaped with minor injuries.
The accident was one of dozens around the nation involving tread separations and blow-outs with G159 tires, a product of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Court records allege that, despite the accidents and more than 40 lawsuits, the industry giant continued making and selling that tire for years. No recall or public-safety warning was issued. Some deaths and injuries were not reported to federal safety officials.
Meanwhile, according to rulings by a federal judge, Goodyear lawyers allegedly withheld evidence, misled courts and had documents sealed to keep the fatal flaw hidden. That secrecy campaign was so successful that, until today, no mainstream media outlet has reported in detail on the G159 tire’s lethal legacy.
But, after 10 years of litigation, the Haeger case and a few other lawsuits finally offer a window into the G159’s history, and Goodyear’s legal efforts to keep it under wraps.
The family’s ongoing lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court asserts that the company knew its tire was unsuitable for motor homes, yet “made no subsequent effort to warn users about the liability of the G159, made no effort to inform the government what Goodyear knew ... and made no effort to otherwise recall the tire or provide any post-sale warning.
“Rather, Goodyear chose to ‘run out’ the tire and solve one claim at a time while it employed a national strategy to conceal all critical information from those victimized ... Goodyear knew this strategy would cause future deaths and injuries from G159 tread separations.”
In a key ruling for the Haegers, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver of Arizona hit Goodyear and its lawyers with more than $2.7 million in sanctions for fraud upon the court, possibly a record penalty of that kind in the justice system.
Silver’s 66-page report says Goodyear engaged in a “pattern and practice” of deception and perpetuated “serious discovery misconduct” in other cases she reviewed. Along with financial penalties, the judge ordered Goodyear to file a copy of her ruling in all G159 civil actions nationwide.
Silver’s decisions were upheld in July by a tribunal of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Goodyear is now asking for a review by the full court.
In a supporting brief, the company argues that its lawyers only were required to disclose evidence they planned to use to bolster their defense, not any evidence — negative tire testing results, for example — that might be harmful to their case.
During past legal proceedings, and in a statement e-mailed to The Arizona Republic, company officials denied that G159 tires were responsible for accidents, or that corporate lawyers misled and deceived the courts.
Responding to more than 20 questions submitted by the newspaper, a company spokesman issued this statement: “Goodyear does not comment on pending litigation, however it disputes the plaintiff’s allegations in the pending case. Goodyear prides itself on its commitment to product performance and places product safety and quality as its highest priorities.”
Problems with the G159
Goodyear is one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers, with more than $15 billion in annual revenues and about 1,240 retail outlets, the company’s website says.
According to court records, G159 tires were developed in the late 1990s for use by urban delivery trucks driving limited distances at moderate speeds. A particular model, 275/70 22.5, also fit motorhomes — a huge market.
Accident victims allege that Goodyear officials knew those tires were subject to tread separation and blow-outs when driven long distances at freeway speeds, yet continued making them from 1996 to 2003, and never halted sales.
Manufacturing and sales of G159 tires began in 1996. According to federal court records, the tires were designed to withstand sustained temperatures of 194 degrees. Tests which, according to court records, allegedly were concealed for years showed that, at 75 mph, the G159s hit temperatures up to 229 degrees, becoming subject to potential tread separation and blowout.
Goodyear sold the tires to motorhome manufacturers and owners even after 1998, when the 55 mph national speed limit was canceled and major U.S. freeways allowed travel up to 75 mph.
A lawsuit filed by the Haegers in Maricopa County Superior Court says the failure rate of G159 tires installed on motorhomes has been about 15 times that of Firestone tires that were recalled during a public scandal in 2000 after numerous fatal accidents.
Because some recreational vehicles are seldom used, and therefore experience minimal tire wear, a limited number of G159s may still be in use even though production stopped in 2003. Court documents allege an accident occurred as recently as last year.
It remains unknown how many fatalities have occurred in accidents with the tires in question. According to court records, the company received more than 614 claims involving accidents that resulted in death, injury or damage. Thirty-five accidents occurred in Arizona.
The fight for data
The Haegers first sued Goodyear in 2005, with Scottsdale attorney David Kurtz as their lawyer.
According to court filings, the tire company blamed LeRoy Haeger for the accident because he slammed on the breaks when the tire blew. As in other G159 cases, Goodyear also claimed the motorhome at some time prior to the crash had struck an unknown road hazard, causing damage that eventually led to tread separation.
Litigation dragged through seven years of motions and discovery. From the outset, Kurtz requested from Goodyear all durability and road safety tests on the G159 tire.
Goodyear lawyers objected, saying the request was too broad and data from testing had been discarded per corporate policy. They eventually divulged partial results from a study conducted at low speeds.
Convinced the company was withholding evidence, Kurtz pressed Judge Silver for a court order to produce documents, including materials sealed by judges in other G159 liability cases. Silver rebuked Kurtz, saying Goodyear’s lawyers were officers of the court who could be trusted to abide by legal rules.
Without test data, the Haegers case was legally hampered. Emotionally and financially drained, they accepted a confidential settlement in 2010.
Months later, victims in a Florida G159 wreck brought Goodyear to trial for the first time, and won a $5.6 million jury verdict. Kurtz read about the case in a safety journal. The article mentioned heat and speed tests performed by Goodyear — the very information he had sought for years.
Goodyear's legal tactics condemned
Barred by settlement from reopening the Haeger case, Kurtz filed a motion with Silver seeking misconduct sanctions. Goodyear tried to get the judge to seal that document as well. Instead, Silver demanded explanations from company lawyers, then launched a judicial inquiry.
According to court records, Silver’s probe exposed even more deception. Based on new testimony and documentation, the judge concluded Goodyear’s expert witnesses gave false testimony, and its attorneys acted “in bad faith” with a “dizzying array of misstatements and simple falsehoods.”
Silver’s page report says Phoenix attorney Graeme Hancock, representing Goodyear, made false declarations about the existence and availability of test results. The judge said Goodyear’s national coordinating counsel for G159 cases, Basil Musnuff, and in-house attorney Deborah Okey, prepared and approved disclosures and motions with similar false avowals.
Silver ordered payment to the Haegers of all legal expenses from the start date of Goodyear’s alleged deception. The company and Musnuff were sanctioned $2.2 million. Hancock was fined $548,240.
Silver noted that her ruling could have “unfortunate professional consequences” for the attorneys, referring to potential discipline for ethics violations. A State Bar of Arizona spokesman said Hancock is the subject of an investigation, but the probe has been stayed because of continuing legal proceedings focused on the alleged misconduct.
In a written statement, attorneys representing Hancock said they believe the sanction ruling was “factually and legally incorrect,” and noted that it is under appeal. Musnoff, based in Ohio, could not be reached for comment.
Silver was not the first or only judge to condemn Goodyear’s legal tactics.
In a 2006 wrongful-death case, a Pinal County judge ruled the company “has frustrated both the letter and the spirit of the discovery and disclosure rules.”
One year later, according to Nevada court records, the company was ordered to pay $30 million in a wrongful-death judgment that stemmed from a wreck involving a different tire but similar courtroom conduct. Three occupants of a van were killed and seven others injured.
Judge Sally Loehrer ruled that Goodyear acted in bad faith, withheld evidence, stonewalled and used other “BS” tactics. “Maybe the board of directors has given Goodyear absolute corporate resolution that in every case where Goodyear is sued we shall obfuscate, we shall delay and we shall impede,” Loehrer wrote, “but certainly someone in this case has taken that posture and mode.”
Family plans a second lawsuit
The Haegers are now pursuing a second civil suit against Goodyear, alleging they were defrauded in the federal case.
“By concealing the truth,” their complaint alleges, “Goodyear saved tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts, and simultaneously evaded regulatory penalties and brand damage. ... Goodyear’s conduct surrounding the G159 reflects an abandonment of all human ethics, as it has knowingly and willfully allowed countless citizens to be killed or injured in pursuit of profit.”
Attorneys for the family declined comment for this story. In a recent motion, they wrote that Goodyear has acknowledged receiving at least 63 injury and death claims from G159 accidents. They contend the company “misrepresented” casualty numbers to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, reporting just one death and 13 injuries.
Goodyear denied violating national reporting requirements. The company said in a court brief that it is only required to report some casualties, not all.
While the Goodyear litigation involves fatal accidents, product safety and alleged corporate dishonesty, it also spotlights secrecy in the nation’s courts.
In civil cases, federal and state judges often seal evidence, testimony and motions without public notice or discourse. Blanket protective orders, ostensibly issued to guard trade secrets, are granted at the behest of litigants who seek to avoid embarrassment or hide wrongdoing.
According to Judge Silver, and the Haeger filings in Maricopa County, Goodyear successfully concealed the G159 controversy for 15 years with complicity from courts nationwide.
In every lawsuit filed against the company, the Haegers allege, judges “allowed Goodyear to designate documents as ‘confidential’ and to claim testimony as ‘confidential.’ The protective orders specifically prohibited victims of G159 tread separations and their attorneys from sharing information produced by Goodyear through the course of litigation. ... To assure no documents were ever disclosed, each protective order required that all ‘confidential’ documents be returned to Goodyear after the case was resolved.”
Goodyear was allowed to “unilaterally” determine what information should be blocked from public view. Although the company has claimed protective orders are necessary to guard proprietary information, lawyers for accident victims argue the real purpose is to limit damages and protect the reputation of a company with the slogan, “Made to feel good.”
After the Florida jury verdict in a case known as Schalmo vs. Goodyear, the Haegers’ attorneys allege, company attorneys became “frantic” to remove evidence and testimony from the public record. Goodyear agreed to an immediate settlement with confidentiality provisions, then somehow persuaded the judge in 2010 to issue a protective order that retroactively sealed evidence and testimony presented in open trial.
Even in Silver’s court, reams of documents marked as confidential by Goodyear remain hidden from public view.
Kurtz, joined by Phoenix attorney Patrick McGroder III in representing the Haeger family, is now battling for records sealed in G159 civil actions all across the country. In a filing last month, Goodyear responded that those materials contain “trade secrets” and are irrelevant.
Goodyear’s filing accused the Haeger family of trying “to turn a straightforward settlement fraud case into a 15-year conspiracy by spinning a convoluted and nefarious tale. ...”
According to the Haeger suit, Goodyear’s financial jeopardy could extend beyond lawsuits filed by accident victims. It says the company faces up to $35 million in federal fines — plus possible criminal penalties — for failure to disclose defect-related deaths and injuries to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The tire in question
The Goodyear tire subjected to litigation in motorhome accidents is known as the G159 275/70 22.5.
Model and size numbers are found on the sidewalls.
Although production ceased more than a decade ago, some lightly used recreational vehicles could still be equipped with the tires.
Attorneys for plaintiffs in civil actions against Goodyear declined comment on what steps owners should take if their motorhomes are still equipped with G159s. However, online legal websites recommend that consumers promptly replace such tires, or exchange them if possible. In addition to the dispute over whether the G159s were suitable for RVs, automotive experts say tires deteriorate over time, and many recommend replacement within 6 to 10 years.
The Judge Said This....“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.”
Here They Are The People Behind The Suppression And Coverup.
Below Is The Entire Management Team That Has Tried And Tried To Not Only Suppress But Also Support NATM In Their Efforts To Destroy Our Cause See Them all.....below the story..
Quote From Goodyear's Lawyer.....“do the right thing” and not publish those documents.
And For Over 15 Years regarding loose and homemade trailers since 1975 over 26,000 dead men, women and children when we include hayrides and parade floats.....and we DO INCLUDE anyone who dies after 30 days. You see in the numbers provided by NHTSA.....you must die within 30 days.....after day 30 they do not count your death.
Goodyear is an evil company with this documentation we secured it CLEARLY shows the extent they will go to hide the truth.
The Utility Trailer Industry uses the "Goodyear" model to hide all the defective utility trailers they produce and hitches.
The person responsible for all these coverups?
Right to the top!
All Of These Leaders needs to be summoned to Congress and Testify as to why they covered up these defective tires.
TAKA 20 Deaths by their defective air bags...they are made to answer.
IKEA Falling Furniture in peoples homes... 7 Children Killed they are made to answer
Firestone 500 tire 61 people killed and they were made to answer....
Even Volkswagon with their Diesel Emission Coverup...they were made to answer
Just who do they think that Goodyear can not be made to answer for their product?