A federal appeals court on Monday (July 20) upheld an unusual and perhaps unprecedented directive that a major national tire manufacturer must disclose in all future lawsuits how it withheld information from a Tucson, Ariz., family.

As reported by the Arizona Daily Star, the order by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals directs Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to tell anyone else who sues the company that a trial judge found there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Goodyear, and its attorneys, engaged in a fraud by not disclosing it had done tests on the tire model in question.

The case involves a Tucson couple driving through New Mexico in 2003 in their motor home. While on a freeway, one of the tires allegedly failed, causing the vehicle to go over an embankment and flip over, causing serious injury to driver Leroy Haeger, his wife and their daughter-in-law.

Those test results, wrote appellate Judge Milan Smith Jr., could have been used to support the allegation that the tire was improperly designed and not suitable for high-speed use in the desert climate. More to the point, Smith said it could have resulted in the plaintiffs getting more in a settlement.

Separately, the appellate court upheld a $2.7 million sanction levied against the company’s attorneys, an amount designed to compensate the plaintiffs in the case for all the costs they had incurred in filing the suit. Smith said imposing the fees is the only real way to punish the attorneys as there is no way to know what the couple might have obtained had the company not hidden the information.

“We are disappointed with the decision and are considering our options,” Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said.

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