March 24, 2010 by Robert Tharp at 11:41:30 am
Farrar & Ball, LLP Wins $32.8 Million Verdict in Rollover Case Against Cooper Tire
Handing a $32.8 million verdict agaisnt Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. last week, a jury in Des Moines, Iowa, has found that Cooper Tire's Lifeliner Classic II tire is defective and responsible for a 2007 vehicle rollover that killed one person, paralyzed another and seriously injured four more. The jury found that Cooper Tire defectively designed and manufactured the Cooper Lifeliner Classic II tire, and evidence at trial showed that the rollover was caused by a defect in the tire that allowed part of the steel belt to rust and weaken over time. Jurors also heard evidence that despite safer alternatives, Cooper Tire executives delayed necessary changes in order to avoid additional costs of updating the tire's design.
The crash killed Assata Karlar, paralyzed Ivon Toe, and severely injured Josephine Cole, Sekou Jai, Jailah Nayou and Achol Deng Mawien. According to Bloomberg, the award was spread among the seven plaintiffs and their relatives, mostly for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost income, and other legal damages.
The largest share, $28.4 million, went to lead plaintiff Ivon Toe, who was paralyzed in the crash and now lives in a nursing home in Norwalk. Jurors also declared that the company should pay $1.5 million in punitive damages, to deter Cooper and its competitors from any future similar manufacturing flaws.
Jurors deliberated four days before deciding that the tire was defective, with a chemical flaw in the rubber that allowed part of the tire's steel belt to rust and weaken. Attorneys Kyle Farrar and Wesley Todd Ball of the Houston trial law firm Farrar & Ball, LLP served as lead counsel for the six passengers involved in the car wreck and their families. They were assisted at trial by Fred James of the James Law Firm in Des Moines. This isn't the first, or even the second, favorable outcome that Farrar & Ball attorneys have secured for plaintiffs injured by defective Cooper Tire products.
"This is a case of a large corporation putting profits over people," says Mr. Ball. "We have documents in which the company's executives openly discuss the costs of improving the design of this tire, and unfortunately they decided that saving money was more important than saving lives."
"We are grateful to the jury for making Cooper Tire take responsibility for their negligence," says Mr. Farrar. "Although nothing can make up for the terrible tragedy our clients have suffered, our hope is that this verdict sends a message to the entire industry that vehicle and passenger safety should be the number one priority."
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