Goodyear Tires Draw Lawsuits, No Recall

ByABC News via GMA logo
May 18, 2003, 7:58 PM

May 19 -- After 19-year-old Jennie Swanson died in a wreck in Arizona three years ago, her family was overwhelmed by grief, but the sadness turned to anger at the company that made the tires on Swanson's vehicle.

Swanson's sister, Maren, and her mother, Deborah Linzer, say a Goodyear tire caused the crash that killed Jennie Swanson and shattered their lives.

"I had no idea how devastating grief was," Linzer said. "I had no idea how crippling it was to miss your child."

After wrestling with their anger, the family filed one of 47 lawsuits against Goodyear, alleging a defect in a particular type of tire that the company manufactured. Theirs and other similar lawsuits claimed the rubber tread on the tires peeled away from the steel belts beneath and that this "tread separation" caused crashes, injuries, and in some cases, death.

"Suing Goodyear was about justice," Linzer said. "It was about trying to spare some other mother and father from losing their most precious, precious thing."

Recall Needed?

The tires called into question are certain Goodyear Load Range "E" type tires made between 1991 and 2000. It is estimated that millions of the tires remain on the road on large, heavily loaded sport utility vehicles, pickups and commercial-sized vans.

Linzer, who just marked her third Mother's Day without her daughter, says there should be a recall of the tires.

"It is criminal that those tires are still on the road because they still carry their defect with them, which means that they still have the power to kill innocent people." Linzer said.

Goodyear says the tires "were, and still are, quality tires," and urges drivers to make sure the tires are properly inflated.

Alarming Rate of Claims

In a deposition obtained by Good Morning America, a retired Goodyear engineer testified that by the mid-1990s, the company was concerned enough about the tires to begin an internal investigation. Goodyear was concerned about the number of tread separation claims.