Earlier last month, Cooper Tire & Rubber settled a lawsuit that was brought in the aftermath of an accident that paralyzed one man. According to one news source covering the case, the settlement agreement was reached on the second day of the trial. However, the exact terms of the agreement have not yet been released.
Evidently, the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in a minivan equipped with Cooper tires when the rear left tire blew, causing the minivan to overturn. The man, who was sitting in the rear of the minivan, was ejected from the vehicle. As a result of the accident, the man suffered serious injuries and was paralyzed.
The man filed suit against Cooper Tire & Rubber, alleging that the company manufactured a defective product that caused his injuries. Specifically, he claimed that Cooper failed to use belt-edge gum strips, which are known to reduce occurrences of tread separation. In fact, there was evidence before the court that suggested that Cooper knew of these problems as early as 1996, but it failed to do anything about them in this specific model. Additionally, other models of Cooper tires did have some safety mechanisms that the tires on the plaintiff’s vehicle did not. This, the plaintiff argued, showed that Cooper was aware of the potential defect.
Some pretrial motions had already been argued and decided by the court, including one motion filed by Cooper seeking to introduce evidence that the driver of the van carrying the plaintiff had smoked marijuana the day prior to the accident. That motion was denied, and the evidence would not be permitted at trial. Cooper was, however, permitted to submit evidence that the plaintiff was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the car accident that resulted in his injury.
How Pretrial Decisions Can Frame a Case
This case was settled before the trial concluded, likely because both parties were seeking certainty and neither wanted to walk away with an adverse verdict. The court’s decision on the pretrial motions that were filed likely had a huge effect on the parties’ willingness to engage in settlement negotiations, as well as how the final negotiations unfolded. For example, Cooper was certainly hoping that they could introduce evidence of the driver’s marijuana use as a way to shift liability away from the company and onto someone else. However, Cooper received a favorable verdict in the motion allowing the company to introduce evidence of the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt. In sum, the strategic decision of what pretrial motions to file can frame how settlement negotiations go and ultimately can influence the outcome of the case.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Washington, D.C. accident, you should seek out counsel as soon as possible. The longer your attorney has to prepare your case, including the strategic pretrial motions, the better position you will be in when and if the case goes to trial. The skilled advocates at the Maryland and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience representing clients in all kinds of personal injury cases, including those arising out of defective products. To learn more about Maryland and Washington, D.C. personal injury cases, and to set up your free consultation, call 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Man Sues Wal-Mart after Allegedly Faulty Boots Cause Serious Injury, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 23, 2015
State Supreme Court Finds in Favor of Slip-and-Fall Victim on Sovereign Immunity Issue, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 7, 2015