Mascarenas v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

643 F. Supp. 2d 1363 (2009)

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Mascarenas v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia
643 F. Supp. 2d 1363 (2009)

Facts

Annette vonGartzen (plaintiff) and Greg vonGartzen were riding in a vehicle with tires manufactured by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper) (defendant) when the tread came off one of the tires. Annette lost control of the vehicle, and the vehicle flipped over, killing Greg and injuring Annette. Annette and Paul and Gisela Mascarenas, the parents of Greg’s sole surviving heir, sued Cooper. At trial, the Mascarenases and Annette called Dennis Carlson, a licensed professional mechanical engineer, as an expert witness. Carlson examined the remaining pieces of the damaged tire visually and tactilely and determined that it suffered from several design defects. Among other things, Carlson tested the tire’s inner liner, x-rayed the tire and tread, tested the vehicle’s other three tires, personally visited Cooper’s plant where the tire was manufactured, and relied on other testing in the industry and industry literature. In coming to his conclusion, Carlson considered and eliminated other potential causes of the failure, including the tire’s age and use. In fact, Carlson testified that not all tread malfunctions were due to design defects. Cooper filed a motion to exclude Carlson’s testimony as unreliable and for judgment as a matter of law.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alaimo, J.)

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