Lawyers in our firm’s Personal Injury and Product Liability Section have successfully handled cases involving defective tires made by Chinese and other foreign tire manufacturers. They are currently looking at additional potential claims involving these tires. More and more frequently, tires are being made for sale in this country by these manufacturers. Unfortunately, too many of them do not take the appropriate steps through good design and manufacturing practices to assure that their tires are safe. As equally troubling are the companies who import these foreign company’s tires into this country. In too many instances, “importers” are not taking the appropriate steps to assure that Chinese and other foreign tire makers’ tires are safe, despite the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards requiring them to do so.
Under Federal law, importers of tires are deemed to be “manufacturers.” As such, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations (FMVSS) hold importers to the same responsibilities as domestic manufacturers. “Importers” must take steps to assure that the tires they import are free of defects. Good manufacturing processes require “importers” to conduct on-site inspection(s) of a foreign tire makers’ facilities to assure that adequate testing, manufacturing, quality control and other measures are in place.
Once they import tires into this country, “importers” should perform random sampling, testing and inspection of foreign tires before they distribute and/or sell the tires to consumers in this country. Perhaps one of the most important duties that an “importer” or “distributor” has is to assure that once a foreign tire manufacturer determines a defective tire warrants a recall is to assure the recall is appropriately carried out in this country.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation concerning a defective Chinese tire sold in the U.S. under different brand names that was recalled by one importer, but not another. Last month, NHTSA sent a request for information to Hercules Tire and Rubber Company, a subsidiary of American Tire Distributors Inc., to determine if it should have recalled its Hercules Radial A/T sold in eight different sizes manufactured by the Shandong Yongsheng Rubber Co. Ltd. The investigation was prompted after a different importer, ITG Voma, recalled the Capital Precision Trac II, also manufactured Shandong Yongsheng, which Shangdong Yongsheng has admitted is similar in design to the Hercules. ITG recalled 94,890 Capital Precision Trac II, which were sold in seven sizes for passenger cars and light trucks and have been linked to several failures and injuries.
Whether the Hercules tire imported by Hercules Tire and Rubber Company and made by Shandong Yongsheng will be recalled remains to be seen. Based on the admission of the Chinese tire maker, it probably should. The most troubling thing is it appears that once again, an importer of a Chinese tire is not taking the steps it should to assure that it follows guidelines to assure tires are safe.
For more information about the Hercules tire problems and for other tire safety information, contact Rick Morrison, a lawyer in our Personal Injury and Products Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rick.Morrison@beasleyallen.com. Rick handles tire-related litigation for our firm and will be glad to talk with you.
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