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Arkansas Jury Orders Hankook to Pay $1.2M for Tire Tread Defect Crash

Another win for Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball against a global tire manufacturer

MORRILTON, Ark. – An Arkansas jury late Thursday ordered South Korea-based Hankook Tire Co. LTD to pay $1.2 million to a severely injured dump truck driver over an accident caused by a tire tread defect.

The verdict is the latest significant win against a global tire manufacturer by the trial lawyers at Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball LLP, which maintains offices in Ocala, Florida, and Houston. The eight-day trial followed a multiyear legal battle on behalf of 76-year-old truck driver Elmer Philpot.

Mr. Philpot was driving a load of gravel in 2010 when a defective tread on his right front tire separated, causing him to lose control of his dump truck. In the resulting crash, Mr. Philpot suffered leg fractures that required hip replacement.

After hearing evidence about how the defect originated at a Hankook plant in Daejeon, South Korea, the jury found the company 100 percent responsible for the crash and for Mr. Philpot’s injuries. The jury award is the largest on record in Conway County, Arkansas. Earlier in the case, Hankook was sanctioned by the judge for discovery misconduct.

“We took an aggressive position in this lawsuit because we knew that the jury needed to see and hear all of the evidence about Hankook’s manufacturing processes,” says attorney Skip Lynch, who practices in Kaster Lynch’s Florida office.

Trial team member Bruce Kaster agreed: “We forced this company to turn over key documents, and that made a big difference during the trial.”

In addition to Mr. Lynch and Mr. Kaster, the winning trial team included Jerry Kelly of Carlisle, Arkansas-based The Kelly Law Firm PA, and Ben Caruth of Gordon, Caruth & Virden PLC in Morrilton, Arkansas.

The case is Elmer Philpot v. Hankook Tire Co. LTD, et al., No. CV-2012-114, in the Circuit Court of Conway County.

The trial lawyers at Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball have hard-earned expertise in cases against global tire manufacturers over tire tread separation defects that can cause vehicles to lose control and roll over, often at highway speeds and without warning. The firm has secured verdicts and settlements against some of the largest tire manufacturers in the world, including Cooper, Goodyear and Hankook. To learn more about the firm, please visit http://www.thetirelawyers.com.

As injuries and fatalities continue to rise in connection with defective ignition switches in millions of GM cars and trucks, General Motors has agreed to pay $900 million to settle criminal charges related to its poor response and botched handling of the grave product safety issue.

At least 124 people have died and many more have been injured in crashes caused by GM cars shutting off without notice, disabling the airbag, power steering and power brakes. GM executives have admitted that its employees were aware of the ignition switch flaw for nearly a decade before implementing a recall in 2014.

Although federal authorities have said that GM executives made misleading statements and concealed information about the faulty switch, the settlement does not hold individual decision makers at GM accountable and has drawn criticism relatives of those killed in crashes caused by the faulty ignition switches.

“While nothing can bring my daughter back, we need a system where auto executives are accountable to the public and not just corporate profits,” Laura Christian, whose 16-year-old daughter Amber Marie Rose was killed in 2005, told CNN.

The automotive product liability lawyers at Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball have extensive experience representing individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of dangerous automotive products. The trial team has successfully represented individuals who have been injured by defective tires and automotive products, spurring automakers and product manufacturers to make safety improvements to their products.

Read more about the settlement here.

Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball successfully concluded litigation with Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. The firm represented Maria and Jesus Rodriguez, age 11, in a tire failure incident wherein Maria was seriously injured and Jesus was rendered a paraplegic. The incident occurred and the case was filed in Harris County, Texas.

As a result of the catastrophic tire failure, Maria and Jesus were forever affected. Due to his paralysis, Jesus’s future medical needs were estimated by experts in excess of $8 million.

During the pendency of the case, Farrar & Ball successfully compelled the production of tens of thousands of pages of internal Cooper Tire documents. With the benefit of these documents, Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball were able to prove the tire was defectively manufactured and designed. However, at the insistence of Cooper Tire the information produced during the pendency of the case has been forever sealed by the District Court due to Cooper’s claim of confidentiality. Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball maintain the documents represent nothing presently confidential of any concern to Cooper Tire. Rather, the reason for Cooper’s insistence of confidentiality concerns the fact all information is simply “dirty laundry,” which could injure Cooper in future litigation.

Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP is dedicated to helping those injured due to corporate neglect. Our firm has developed specialized knowledge of tire and vehicle failures and each respective industry. If you have a case involving injury as the result of a tire or vehicle failure, please call us immediately. We aggressively work every case as though it were our only case. You too will receive specialized attention.

The case concluded two months before trial was to begin. At the urging of Cooper Tire, Plaintiffs are unable to disclose the terms.

Kyle Farrar and Wes Ball, founding partners of Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, once again have earned a spot on the annual Texas Rising Stars list.

This marks the third consecutive year that all three have been profiled in the annual Texas Rising Stars magazine. To earn the distinction, researchers with Thomas Reuters’ Legal division solicit nominations from attorneys across the state. The final list of honorees appears in the April 2012 editions of Texas Monthly and Texas Rising Stars magazine.

Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball founding partners Kyle Farrar and Wes Ball once again have been named to the Texas Rising Stars list, with 2011 marking the second consecutive year they have been highlighted among the state’s top litigators.

Both were nominated by fellow attorneys across the state, and the final selections are listed in the April 2011 editions of Texas Monthly and Texas Rising Stars magazine. These latest honors are further proof of the hard work and dedication Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball devotes to all its clients.

After a rollover crash in 2007 killed one passenger and severely injured the others, the accident victims sued in Iowa state court. As part of their case, the plaintiffs’ attorneys obtained key documents showing that Cooper was aware of dangerous defects in several of its tire lines. Although the parties had agreed to a protective order, these documents were then used as evidence during the trial, and several witnesses testified about them.

In March 2010, a jury found Cooper fully at fault for the crash. The next month, however, Cooper filed a “motion to maintain protective order,” which, if granted, would have required the sealing not only of the trial exhibits, but also portions of the trial transcript.

Public Justice moved to intervene on behalf of the Center for Auto Safety in order to oppose Cooper’s motion. In January 2012, the court denied Cooper’s motion as to the trial transcript, but granted it as to the documents that had been produced pursuant to the protective order on grounds that they are trade secrets.

Staff Attorney Leslie Bailey was lead counsel. Co-counsel were Stuart Ollanik of Boulder, Colo., and Emily Anderson of Riccolo & Semelroth, P.C. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Tire companies rarely have to answer in court for the harm caused by their defective products. Few law firms have taken manufacturers to trial in the last three years.

Only a handful of law firms focus on tire litigation against all manufacturers. Kaster Lynch Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP is an elite firm in this area.

Over the past few years, we’ve obtained significant verdicts and settlements in tire-related litigation across the country. Our success includes:

2012: Settlement reached after first day of trial
Defendant: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.
2010: Record setting verdict
Defendant: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

We know tires. We know how to win. To discuss your tire case or product liability claim, contact us at 800-311-1747.

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld a $32.8 million jury verdict against Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. (NYSE: CTB) in a tire-tread separation accident that killed one person and injured several others.

The ruling affirms a 2010 jury verdict issued in Iowa’s Polk County District Court that found Cooper Tire responsible for the Sept. 17, 2007, fatal rollover crash involving a group of employees from a local meatpacking plant who were carpooling in a van to work.

The crash on Highway 65 between Des Moines and Marshalltown claimed the life of Assata Karlarj. Passenger Ivon Toe was paralyzed in the accident, and Josephine Cole, Sekou Jai, Jailah Nayou and Achol Deng Mawien were severely injured.

Attorneys Kyle Farrar and Wesley Todd Ball of the Houston trial law firm Farrar & Ball, LLP served as lead counsel for the six passengers and their families, along with attorney Fred James of the James Law Firm in Des Moines and attorney John Gsanger of The Edwards Law Firm in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Trial evidence showed that the rollover crash resulted from a tire defect that caused a catastrophic tread separation of the van’s left rear tire. The victims’ attorneys also told jurors how Cooper Tire executives knew that an updated tire design would be safer, but delayed necessary changes in order to save money. The trial court jury found that Cooper Tire defectively designed and manufactured the Cooper Lifeliner Classic II tire.

“We are pleased that the appellate court has upheld the jury’s decision to hold a company accountable for its actions,” says Mr. Ball.

“The victims and families have been suffering from Cooper’s decisions for nearly six years, and they are now one step closer to justice,” says Mr. Farrar. “While no amount of money can heal or bring back a loved one, our hope is that this decision sends a clear message to every company that they must protect customers’ safety.”

The appellate decision in Ivon Toe, et al. v. Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, et al., No. 3-013/11-1588, was handed down Wednesday, April 24, 2013, affirming a jury verdict of more than $31.3 million in actual damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.

Farrar & Ball, LLP, is dedicated to helping those injured due to corporate neglect. The firm has developed extensive knowledge of tire and vehicle failures. To learn more, visit the firm’s website at http://www.fbtrial.com/index.html.

DES MOINES, Iowa – A Polk County, Iowa, jury has issued a $32.8 million verdict against Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. (NYSE: CTB) in a lawsuit over a fatal 2007 vehicle rollover caused by tire tread separation.

Jurors in Judge Carla T. Schemmel’s District Court found that Cooper Tire was responsible for the September 17, 2007, rollover crash of a 1997 Plymouth Grand Voyager van on Highway 65 between Des Moines and Marshalltown.

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.

The vehicle rollover was caused by catastrophic tread separation on the van’s left rear tire. The crash killed Assata Karlar, paralyzed Ivon Toe, and severely injured Josephine Cole, Sekou Jai, Jailah Nayou and Achol Deng Mawien.

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.

“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.”

The verdict was issued Friday, March 19, 2010, following four days of jury deliberations. The award inIvon Toe, et al. v. Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, et al., No. CL 106914, includes more than $31.3 million in actual damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.

“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.”

Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball is dedicated to helping those injured due to corporate neglect. The firm has developed extensive knowledge of tire and vehicle failures.