Case details

Defense: Tire not discovered defective until after crash





Result type

Not present

closed head injury, cognition, head, head injury, impairment, injuries, mental, psychological, spinal fractures
On June 11, 2010, plaintiff Brandon Horn, a man in his 30s, was seat belted in his 2002 Volkswagen Jetta as he was driving on Highway 180. Plaintiffs William Delara, Corlynn James and Jennifer Soria were passengers in Horn’s vehicle, on their way to go camping. When they were near Fowler Avenue, east of Fresno, their vehicle’s left rear tire lost its tread, causing Horn to lose control of the vehicle while attempting to pull over to the side of the road. As a result, their vehicle went off the roadway and rolled down an embankment, landing on its roof. Horn sustained a head injury and spinal fractures, and the other occupants also claimed . Horn, Delara, James and Soria sued the manufacturer of the 6-year-old General tire, Continental Tire the Americas, LLC; the seller of the tire, MDS Enterprises Inc., which was doing business as Big O Tires; and the company that serviced Horn’s vehicle in 2009, Sears, Roebuck and Co. Prior to trial, Delara, James and Soria settled with all of the defendants and were subsequently let out of the case. Horn had also reached a settlement with MDS Enterprises and Continental Tire. Thus, the matter proceeded to trial with only Horn’s claims against Sears, Roebuck and Co. Horn’s counsel contended that although Sears, Roebuck did not sell the tire that failed, its employees were negligent for not recommending that Horn replace the defective tire and for not placing the more worn tires on the front axle of the vehicle when it was serviced in 2009. Horn claimed that he had gone to the Sears Automotive Center at Manchester Shopping Center in January 2009 and July 2009. He alleged that in January 2009, he purchased two new tires from Sears, which then placed the tires on the front axle of his vehicle. He also alleged that when he returned to Sears in July 2009, he purchased a new right rear tire. However, Horn claimed that Sears told him the left rear tire was fine, so he did not replace it. Thus, he contended that Sears should have been removed the left rear tire from the rear axle on the two occasions that the vehicle was serviced by Sears. He also contended that the employees of Sears, Roebuck failed to follow Sear’s policy and training in the servicing of the vehicle and that had they done so, the tire would have been removed prior to the accident. Counsel for Sears, Roebuck contended that the subject tire was not discovered to be defective until after the crash, when an X-ray revealed the manufacturing defect that caused the tread to separate. Counsel also contended that the 2002 Jetta owner’s manual stated that the tires with the best tread should be placed on the front axle, which is what the Sears, Roebuck employees did. Counsel further contended that the Sears, Roebuck employees could not have known about the defect because there were no visible signs of any defect and that the tire had adequate tread on it when it was last seen. Sears, Roebuck claimed that it was its custom and practice to recommend replacing tires in pairs and that its employees earn commissions on tire sales. However, the Sears, Roebuck employees did not remember the specific transactions in 2009., Horn sustained a closed head injury and spinal fractures. He was subsequently taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno and he ultimately underwent a single screw fixation surgery to repair the unstable odontoid C1 fracture he sustained. His head injury went untreated until 1.5 years after the incident. Horn, now 37, claimed he continues to suffer chronic pain, headaches and cognitive deficits. He alleged that he attempted to return to work at Williams Sonoma 10 months after the accident, but that he had to quit after four months because of his chronic pain and cognitive deficits. Thus, Horn claimed he could never return to the work force again. He also claimed that he will require extensive future treatment, including two single level fusion surgeries. Horn sought recovery of approximately $280,000 in total medical expenses to date. He also sought recovery for his future medical costs, and past and future wage loss. In addition, Horn sought recovery of damages for his loss of quality of life. Defense counsel noted that Horn took some college classes after he quit Williams Sonoma and received “A” grades. However, Horn claimed he ultimately had to stop taking college classes because of his chronic pain and cognitive complaints.
Superior Court of Fresno County, Fresno, CA

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