Two separate lawsuits have been filed against Continental Tire The Americas LLC, the North American unit of German automobile parts maker Continental AG, involving defective tires. The product liability and negligence lawsuits were filed in a South Carolina federal court and involve allegations that a defective tire tread caused a crash in 2012 that killed a driver and severely injured her passenger. The complaints filed on behalf of the driver, Sharhonda T. Turnipseed, and her minor son who was a passenger (known in the documents only as JFW-T) allege the two South Carolina residents were both critically injured when the tread of the left rear tire manufactured by Continental in 2004 separated, causing the 1998 Ford Explorer to roll several times. Ms. Turnipseed eventually died from her injuries.
In addition to permanent injuries the child suffered from the accident, another element of danger is due to the fact that he had to witness the death of his mother. Other than some minor wear and tear, both the vehicle and tire were in about the same condition as when purchased, according to the complaint. The Plaintiffs claim Continental was negligent in both the design of its tire and warning of potential dangers that come with age and wear. Additionally, the suits claim Continental breached its warranty that the tire was in safe working condition and is strictly liable for placing a defective tire into the market.
The tire in involved in the litigation is a General Ameri GS60, P225/75R15, with a DOT Number A3HH 3LU 4404, and was manufactured the 44th week of 2004 at the General Tire & Rubber Company in Mt. Vernon, Ill. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, there have been no reported defects associated with the tire. The two Plaintiffs are also suing Cossi Holdings LLC, TBC Corp. and SpeeDee Worldwide Corp., all of which owned and operated the SpeeDee Oil Change and Auto Service in Rock Hill, S.C.
According to the complaint, the Rock Hill auto inspector was negligent and reckless for failing to properly inspect the tires for age defects while providing standard maintenance on the SUV prior to the July 2012 crash. In early July, Continental recalled a batch of 3,800 passenger vehicle tires after a driver reported an incident in which the tire’s tread became separated from the rubber. According to the company, that faulty tire – a different make and model than the one in question in the complaint – was manufactured during the second week of February and traced back to Continental’s plant in Fort Mills, S.C. No injuries resulted from that reported incident.
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