SW Legal studies in Business

Exploding Tire Due to User Carelessness, Not Design Defect

New York appeals court rejected a design defect claim against a tire maker in a case where the tire exploded when re-inflated and killed the worker. The truck tire had been improperly maintained, making it weak and likely to rupture. Tire maker is not responsible for such problems.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Product Liability, Design Defect

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Stalker ran a truck repair business. One of his trucks had a flat tire and was replaced. Stalker tried to repair the tire. When he inflated it, a “zipper rupture” occurred, causing an explosion that killed Stalker. The tire was made in 1993 by Goodyear, it was retreaded in 1996, and the explosion occurred in 2001. Stalker’s widow sued Goodyear for design defect in the tire. The trial court dismissed the suit; plaintiff appealed.


Affirmed. A defectively designed product is one which, at the time it leaves the seller’s hands, is in a condition not reasonably contemplated by the ultimate consumer and is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. Goodyear and the company that did the retread demonstrated that the zipper rupture explosion occurred as a result of low air pressure and poor maintenance, rather than defective design. Trucks tires that have been run with low air pressure are likely to rupture. Safety procedure requires standing to the side of the tire being re-inflated and a clip-on air chuck being used. A poster in the workplace showed that procedure. Had Stalker taken standard safety precautions, the accident would not have occurred. Since Stalker had 20 years experience working on commercial truck tires, he was aware of the danger of zipper ruptures, so there was no need for him to have been warned of the safety issue.


Stalker v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., ---NYS2d--- (2009 WL 613886, App. Div., NY, 2009)

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