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Ilinois Judge Rules That Expert Need Not Pinpoint Exact Cause Of Tire Failure

September 3, 2008  ·  By HM&M


Trish McCloud was permanently disabled when her motorcycle's rear tire blew out in 2002. After the jury awarded damages to her in her products liability case, the tire manufacturer, Goodyear Dunlop Tires, asked for a new trial, raising a variety of issues, including the adequacy of the tire expert's testimony.

At trial, McCloud's expert testified that he believed that the blowout occurred because a nylon cord became imbedded in the tire's innermost layer and as a result, a bubble formed at the sidewall layer of the tire which caused the burst. He testified that the error could have occurred in three ways during manufacturing.

Goodyear countered this trial testimony with claims that McCloud's expert did not pinpoint when in the manufacturing process the defect occurred and claimed it had not received reports of this problem from other customers– thus the tire rupture was not due to a manufacturing defect.

The company argued that user error caused the blowout. Specifically, Goodyear claimed that the owner either overloaded or underinflated the tire or that they had installed too many accessories on the bike which put the vehicle over its recommended weight.

In upholding the jury award, the Federal Judge held that under Illinois Law, McCord's expert witness was not required to pinpoint the exact cause of the crash but instead could, through credible testimony, narrow the cause to one of three possible manufacturing errors.

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