Watts Guerra Craft LLP Obtain Jury Verdict Against Michelin
Case:In Sara Quiroz Cruz, et al. v. Michelin North America, Inc. & Jesus Guzman Reyes case, Cause No. 2007-CV-0141-A; In the 197th Judicial District Court of Willacy County, Texas, the jury today returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs and Intervenors against Michelin.
The case arose out of a head-on collision occurring on December 31, 2006, on a highway inside Mexico, called the Carretera Matamoros-Reynosa in Mexico. A Ford F250 pickup, being driven by Jesus Guzman, suffered a partial left front tread-belt detachment of a BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tire manufactured during the 24th week of 2004 at the Tuscaloosa, Alabama BF Goodrich plant, causing the F250 to travel into the oncoming lane of traffic, and leading to subsequent head-on impact with a Chevy Suburban. All six people in the Suburban were killed, and a young boy in the F250 was left a paraplegic.
Watts Law Firm, LLP (now Watts Guerra Craft, LLP) representing the survivors of the six deaths in the Suburban, filed suit in Willacy County, Texas against the driver of the F250. Michelin was brought in as a third-party defendant by the Intervenors, represented by Carlos Guerra and Michael Moore of Guerra & Moore, LLP, of McAllen, Texas. Watts Law Firm, LLP (now Watts Guerra Craft, LLP), then sued Michelin as well, and later associated John Gsanger of the Edwards Law Firm in Corpus Christi, Texas, who represented the Intervenors who were riding in the Ford F250, making claims against Michelin. Tim Maloney filed suit on behalf of the surviving father of one of the dead children in the Suburban. The case was defended by Thomas M. Bullion, III, and Chris Blackerby, of the Germer Gertz lawfirm in Austin Texas, and Kate Helm of Atlanta, Georgia, with Kitt Foster and Valerie Williams of Michelin serving as the in-house lawyers for the case.
The trial began on August 17, 2009, with jury selection. The Plaintiffs and Intervenors called forty (40) witnesses. Highlights of the trial included considerable hints by Michelin that the Intervenors’ investigator allegedly “planted” the tread at the scene, and retorts by Plaintiffs that Michelin had “shredded” all its specifications and test documentation. The rebuttal ended with the argument: “Michelin has a lot of guts claiming evidence was planted, when every ounce of paper they have about this tire was shredded so you couldn’t see it.”
The jury answered Question No. 1 “Yes” and found a manufacturing defect in the tire.
The jury answered Question No. 2 “No” as to whether Jesus Guzman Reyes was negligent.
The jury did not answer Question No. 3, apportioning responsibility 100% to Michelin.
The jury answered Question Nos. 4-8 by awarding the Plaintiffs damages.
The jury answered Question Nos. 9-12 by awarding the Intervenors damages.