$5.6 Million Awarded by Jury in Florida RV Accident Case

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A Pasco County jury returned one of the largest verdicts in county history recently when they awarded $5.6 million to a Florida family who had filed suit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for defective tires that were blamed for a 2004 RV accident.
John Schalmo was driving on State Road 8 near Chipley in August of 2004 when the right front tire on his motor home suffered catastrophic tread separation, sending the RV out of control and crashing into a line of trees. Schalmo and his wife’s parents suffered serious injuries as the result of the crash; another passenger lost both legs.
The RV that Schalmo was driving had Goodyear G159 tires, which were standard equipment at the time. Schalmo’s Florida personal injury attorneys argued that Goodyear had marketed that tire to the RV industry for over a decade and knew it was dangerous for use in RVs.
The trial was the first G159 tire case to be resolved in a public trial; Goodyear has settled a number of G159 tread separation cases involving serious injury and deaths in exchange for confidentiality. The families involved in the Pasco County trial refused to agree to a confidential settlement and wants Goodyear to recall the tire.
Although the Circuit Court judge has given Goodyear 45 days to present arguments for sealing the confidential corporate materials shown at trial, observers expect that confidentiality in this case is unlikely given Florida’s Sunshine in Litigation Act, which prohibits a court from protecting company information that may conceal a public hazard. See Jury Returns $5.6 Million Verdict Against Goodyear in RV Crash Case.

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