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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Worldandnation: Lawsuits stack up for tire maker: " Sharon rushed to intensive care uni_

Lawsuits stack up for tire maker
Cooper Tire is accused of making defective tires that have resulted in fatalities, and of using questionable tactics to win the lawsuits that result.

Published July 23, 2006

Times Staff Writer

A St. Petersburg mother was on her way back from a wedding in Atlanta when it happened. A Miami driveway installer and father of three was on his way to work. And a 23-year-old painter who left Mexico to make a new life in the United States died on Interstate 75, just east of Naples.

The families of all three have accused Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. of manufacturing defective tires that suffered tread separations and ultimately killed them.

At least 21 lawsuits involving 12 deaths have been filed against Cooper Tire in Florida since 2000. They are among dozens nationwide that claim Cooper tires separated at high speeds.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration initiated a defect investigation into one line of Cooper tires � the Dominator Sport A/T. (The Florida lawsuits involve other models.)

The company, which makes replacement tires, is the country�s fourth largest tire manufacturer. Cooper says there is no problem with the Dominator, or any of its other tires.

�Our records show nothing which would indicate there is any issue with this tire,� said Cooper spokeswoman Patricia J. Brown. �The overwhelming majority of tire failures are caused by service-related conditions that have nothing to do with a tire 'defect.� �

But it�s Cooper Tire�s tactics to win lawsuits that have drawn attention: hirin"


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