Case Presentation

Click anywhere on the slide to start playing the slideshow and the next animation.

Case/Number

Wayne Weaver; Chad Weaver, individually and as Successors in Interest to the Estate of Frankie Jo Weaver, deceased v. Ford Motor Company, Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, Cerritos Ford, Jusgo Tyres, and Does 1 to 100, inclusive /BC509249.

Court / Date

Los Angeles Superior Central / June 21, 2016.

Judge

Hon. Elihu M. Berle

Attorneys

Plaintiff — Gary C. Eto (Law Office of Gary C. Eto, Torrance); Christine D. Spagnoli (Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, Santa Monica).

Defendant — Edward R. Leonard (Harrington, Foxx, Dubrow & Canter, Orange).

Technical Experts

Plaintiff — Jean Claude Brico, tire failure analysis, Greenville, S.C.; Micky G. Gilbert, mechanical engineering, Arvada, Colo.; Timothy Lanning, Ph.D., economics, Santa Ana.

Defendant — Phillip J. Smith, trucking, St. Pete Beach, Fla.

Facts

On Nov. 12, 2012, on the westbound Interstate 40, approximately 25 miles east of Barstow, Frankie Jo Weaver, 62, was driving her 1998 Ford Explorer when her left rear Cooper Dominator tire sustained a complete tread separation, resulting in a loss of control and rollover. Weaver was seat belted. Weaver suffered fatal injuries. Plaintiffs are Weaver’s two adult sons, Wayne and Chad Weaver.

Plaintiffs’ Contentions

The vehicle had been serviced at Cerritos Ford on Aug. 22, 2012, where they inspected and rotated the tires. Cerritos Ford serviced the vehicle multiple times in the 10-year period preceding the crash. The difference in mileage between the Aug. 22, 2012, inspection and the Nov. 12, 2012, tread separation was 1,848 miles. Post-accident the subject tire had localized rapid wear on the out board side of the tire between 270 and 300 degrees, above the location where the tread separation began, and less than 1/32 of tread depth at its most worn groove. Plaintiffs argued that irregular localized wear pattern was evidence that the steel belts had come apart below the tread and that Cerritos Ford should have taken the tire out of service at the Aug. 22, 2012 inspection.

Defendant’s Contentions

Defendants contended that at the Aug. 22, 2012, inspection, all four grooves of all four of decedent’s tires had 7/32s or greater of tread depth.

Jury Trial

Length, seven days; Poll, 12 0; Deliberation, two hours.

Settlement Discussions

Plaintiffs made a CCP 998 offer for $1 Million. Defendant offered $100,000.

Result

The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs and awarded $2 million against Cerritos Ford. Ford and Cooper Tire made confidential settlements with plaintiff before trial.

Other Information

A motion for new trial was denied on Sept. 19, 2016.

Expert Testimony

Jean Claude Brico testified that the rapid wear pattern was present at the Aug. 22, 2012, inspection, and the most worn groove was at 2132 tread depth Micky Gilbert reconstructed the crash and testified that it is virtually impossible for the unsuspecting driver to control a vehicle at highway speeds that suffers a rear tread separation. Gilbert testified that decedent’s handling of the vehicle throughout the tread separation event was reasonable. Phillip Smith testified that the Cerritos Ford employee had done a proper tire inspection on Aug. 22, 2012, and that the tires were in serviceable condition when the vehicle left Cerrito Ford on that day.

Filing Date

May 17, 2013

View Full Case DetailsView Case in Products Liability Magazine
  • At all times prior to her death, FRANKIE JO WEAVER (hereafter “decedent”), was an individual and a resident of Los Angeles County, California.
  • At all relevant times, plaintiffs CHAD WEAVER, and WAYNE WEAVER, were and are individuals and residents of Los Angeles County, California. CHAD WEAVER, and WAYNE WEAVER are the natural born sons of decedent, and are the successors in interest to decedent=s Estate, and bring this action both individually and as a Survival Action. The Statement of Successor of Interest required by Code of Civil Procedure ‘377.32 is attached hereto, marked as Exhibit “A”.
  • At all relevant times, defendant FORD MOTOR COMPANY (hereafter “FORD”) was and is a corporation organized and existing pursuant to the laws of the State of Delaware, with a principal place of business in Dearborn, Michigan, and was at all times herein mentioned authorized and/or qualified to do business, and was and is doing business, in the State of California.
  • At all relevant times, defendant COOPER TIRE AND RUBBER COMPANY(hereafter “COOPER”) was and is a Delaware corporation, with its principal place of business in the city of Findlay, State of Ohio, and was at all times herein mentioned authorized and/or qualified to do business, and was and is doing business, in the State of California, and did manufacture, market and sell the defective subject tire, Cooper Dominator All Season, DOT#U9HL TUL 0508, size P235/75/R15, as alleged herein.
  • At all relevant times, defendant CERRITOS FORD was a California Corporation, residing in and authorized to and doing business in the City of Cerritos, County of Los Angeles, State of California.
  • At all relevant times, defendant JUST GO TIRES was an entity of unknown nature residing in and/or authorized to and/or doing business in the City of Barstow, County of San Bernardino, State of California.
  • Defendants DOES 1 through 100, and each of them, were individuals, corporations, partnerships, and/or associations residing in and/or authorized to and/or doing business in the State of California. The true names and/or capacities, whether individual, corporate, associate, governmental or otherwise of defendants, Does 1 through 100, inclusive and each of them are unknown to plaintiffs, who therefore sue said defendants by such fictitious names. When the true names and/or capacities of said defendants are ascertained, plaintiffs will seek leave of this Court to amend the complaint accordingly.
  • Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and based thereon allege, that each of the defendants designated herein as a DOE was responsible, negligently or in some other actionable manner, for the events and happenings herein referred to which proximately caused the damages to plaintiffs as hereinafter alleged, either through said defendant=s own negligence or through the conduct of its agents, servants, employees or representatives in some other manner.
  • Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and based thereon allege that at all relevant times, the defendants and each of them were the agents, servants, employees, representatives and/or joint venturers of their co-defendants and were, as such acting within the course, scope and authority of said agency, services, employment, representation and/or joint venture in that each and every defendant, as aforesaid when acting as principal, was negligent in the selection and hiring of each and every other defendant as an agent, servant, employee, representative and/or joint venturer.
  • Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and based thereon allege that at all relevant times, each of the defendants, including Does 1 through 100, inclusive, and each of them were the agents, servants, employees, representatives of each of the remaining defendants and were at all times material hereto acting within the authorized course and scope of said agency, service, employment and/or representation, and/or that all of said acts, conduct and omissions were subsequently ratified by their respective principals and the benefits thereof accepted by such principals.
  • At all relevant times, defendants FORD, and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, were and are engaged in the business of manufacturing, fabricating, designing, assembling, distributing, selling, inspecting, servicing, repairing, marketing, warranting, selling, retailing, wholesaling and advertising a certain subject 1998 Ford Explorer, State of California, U.S.A., License Plate No. R060617, Vehicle Identification No. 1FMZU32E2WZC30709, (hereafter “SUBJECT EXPLORER”) and each and every component part thereof, which defendants knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, would be used without inspection for defects in its parts, mechanisms or design, for use in the State of California and elsewhere.
  • At all relevant times, defendants COOPER, and DOES 51 through 70, inclusive, were and are engaged in the business of manufacturing, fabricating, designing, assembling, distributing, selling, inspecting, servicing, repairing, marketing, warranting, selling, retailing, wholesaling and advertising a certain subject defective tire , a COOPER Dominator All Season tire, DOT #U9HL TUL 9508, (hereafter “SUBJECT TIRE”).
  • At all relevant times, Defendant CERRITOS FORD and DOES 71 through 80, were, an authorized Ford dealer, sales and service repair shop engaged in the business of selling, servicing, repairing Ford vehicles and advising owners of vehicles made by Ford, including but limited to the 1998 Ford Explorer which is the subject of this action.
  • At all relevant times, Defendant JUST GO TIRES and DOES 81 through 90, were, engaged in the business of selling at retail to members of the general public in Barstow, California, tires, including but limited to, the above referenced COOPER SUBJECT TIRE. Defendants are informed and believe and based thereon allege, that Defendant JUST GO TIRES sold the SUBJECT TIRE to decedent FRANKIE JO WEAVER, and installed the SUBJECT TIRE on the SUBJECT EXPLORER.
  • Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and based thereon allege, that on or about November 12, 2012, decedent FRANKIE JO WEAVER was driving the SUBJECT EXPLORER, and decedent was properly restrained, when the left rear tire failed due to a tread separation which caused a loss control of the SUBJECT EXPLORER and as a result of the lateral instability of the SUBJECT EXPLORER, and its low Static Stability Factor (“SSF”), i.e., high center of gravity and comparatively narrow wheel base, the SUBJECT EXPLORER rolled over. As a result of the roll of the vehicle the roof of the vehicle, which was designed and manufactured with insufficient strength in its “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” pillars, windshield headers and roof rails, was incapable of withstanding the weight of the vehicle when inverted and was caused thereby to crush inward toward the vehicle=s occupants, causing severe personal injuries and ultimately fatal injuries to decedent.
  • Plaintiffs are informed and believe and thereon allege that decedent, survived for a period of time after the roll over and was pronounced dead later in the day on November 12, 2012.