Now We Trust our Tires to the Chinese?

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Posted on 15th September 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Chinese Products and American Public Safety? Where have I heard those two concepts together before? Was it heparin? The deaths of potentially thousands of American because Baxter imported contaminated heparin to the U.S. http://heparin-law.com Then there was the lead in toys, the baby formula scandal, even Chinese drywall. Now we learn that our tires are coming from the Chinese. We learn this because President Obama has decided to slap an import duty on those tires because of unfair trade practices. See the Washington Post Article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/11/AR2009091103973.html

According to the Post, Obama imposed this import duty because of American union complaints:
The United Steelworkers union, which represents workers at many U.S. tire production plants, filed a petition earlier this year asking for the protection.

It said a tripling of tire imports from China to about 46 million in 2008 from about 15 million in 2004 had cost more than 5,000 U.S. tire worker jobs.

An additional 35 percent duty will be placed for a year on Chinese-made passenger vehicle and light truck tires, the White House said in a statement.
The jobs are undoubtedly important and it is clearly time for the U.S. to start protecting American jobs. But when I read this story, I can’t help but shudder about Chinese tires. As I said in my last blog: “Everything is riding on those tires.” How can we trust the Chinese to build a tire that you would want to entrust your families safety to? Is that just nationalistic crap, chest beating? I think not.

Here is what we learned about Chinese manufacturing practices, with something as potentially toxic as an IV medicine, from what our own government has labeled the “Heparin Catastrophe.”

First, an American corporation, Baxter, decided to import from China a drug put directly into the veins of our sickest people to make a few extra pennies on the sale of each dose. Second, Baxter knew at the time they made this decision that it could take as much as 30 years for the FDA to get around to inspecting the Chinese plant. Three, they knew at such time that the single biggest problem with importing drugs was contaminants and counterfeiting. Four, they knew or should have known that no one in the plant in China that was producing Heparin had any specialized knowledge of how to make Heparin. Five, they knew that the purity test that they were using for Heparin was not sensitive enough to catch contaminants.

I don’t know all of the details but I would guess that the story is the same for lead in toys, drywall and baby formula. Greed takes precedence over quality control. Buy the cheap stuff from China, make more corporate profits. Well there is a reason it is cheaper – it isn’t the same product. When you sacrifice quality control you not only get crap, you are compromising safety.

If you apply the lessons of Heparin to tires, it could be just as scary. 46 million tire failures could add up to thousands of lives. Tires are one of the single biggest causes of motor vehicle accidents, especially the kind where the accidents don’t involve clear negligence by either driver. See http://fishtail.tv. The problem with manufacturing in China, you don’t know that the Chinese are competent to manufacture to our specifications for safety. You don’t know if someone in the Chinese supply chain is intentionally counterfeiting one of the esssential raw materials or chemicals needed to make the tire safe. You don’t have any meaningful way to ensure safety.

Chinese tires not only could cost American jobs, they could cost American lives.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Michelin Tires Blamed in $12 million lawsuit

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Posted on 11th September 2009 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Every trial lawyer has known the frustration of the potential client with catastrophic injuries in a one car accident or an accident where there was no adequate insurance. The driver of the car is either the actual victim or is insufficiently insured to compensate the injured person or persons. But before the lawyer closes that file, he must ask where does the actual fault lie? In thousands of cases, its the tires. In only a few does someone think to look, or look at all of the right issues.

For the victims of Michelin’s negligence in Brownsville, Texas, the lawyer got it right. According to the Brownsville Herald, a jury has ordered Michelin to pay nearly $12 million after finding that faulty tires caused a wreck that killed six people. http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/raymondville-102219-jury-tire.html According to this story:

A Willacy County jury returned an $11.96 million judgment against the nation’s largest tire maker Thursday, after finding defective tires caused a wreck that killed six people and left a 12-year-old boy paralyzed.

The panel found that a manufacturing flaw in a Goodrich tire — made by South Carolina-based Michelin North America — substantially contributed to the New Year’s Eve 2006 crash that occurred just outside Matamoros.

The tire on a 2002 Ford F-250 pickup truck driven by the family of then 10-year-old Jesus Guzman separated from its tread, causing the vehicle to swerve into oncoming traffic, according to court documents. The truck collided with a Chevrolet Suburban killing all six passengers inside the SUV.
Always look at the tires in every severe motor vehicle wreck case. We have written on this many times before including our entire webpage about hydroplaning accidents at http://fishtail.tv The true fault may lie with the tires – “there is a lot riding on those tires”.

Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
g@gordonjohnson.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.