too many deaths due to tire bursts – -

too many deaths due to tire bursts – -
too many deaths due to tire bursts – -

An investigation by «Le Monde» reveals the millionaire and secret compensation payments made by the American company for the victims of some road accidents. Defective tires in the spotlight

Sophie Rollet’s is a story of revenge. Proof that when the will is there, no one can stop you. In the summer of 2014, on the A36 motorway which leads from Mulhouse to the south of Dijon, her husband Jean-Paul died in a road accident caused by the bursting of an overheated tyre. However Sophie Rollet has never given up on the official version — according to which it was an accident — and from her old home in Geney, a village of 150 souls in Burgundy, she tried to reconstruct the stories of dozens of accidents similar to the one in which her husband was involved. Special suspects? The tires mounted on the cars and trucks involved were all Goodyear branded.

Defective tyres

According to some confidential documents published in an investigation by Le Monde, it seems that the path followed by Rollet to see more clearly is the right one. The woman helped by an investigative journalist discovered that Goodyear had conducted a defective tire replacement program in the Czech Republic to respond to tread separation problems. A campaign that had involved some lines of tires, including those of the Marathon series whose blowout would have caused the death of her husband. Rollet found a letter from Goodyear addressed to its customers in the Czech Republic explaining how separation between tread and tire could lead to a sudden loss of air pressure with possible loss of control of the vehicle and that recall plans they would subsequently also be applied in other European markets.

Goodyear’s secret claims

Sophie Rollet’s work did not stop even when in 2015 a public prosecutor closed the case that had been opened automatically. So the woman contacted a lawyer expert in road traffic law and continued to collect information, attempting to file a manslaughter lawsuit in October 2016 from whose expert opinion, 4 years later, a first result was reached: it is possible that the tires of the Her husband’s truck was defective. It is the first brick of a house that appears to have a solid foundation. Time passes and new cases are found. A source of Le Monde provides over two gigabytes of documents that rwould lead to private agreements between Goodyear and some transportation companies: the tire company would have paid sums of up to six figures to compensate victims of some road accidents in which their tires would have played a central role.

The opinions of the experts

The continuation of the research brought other twists and turns. Christian Duc, a tire engineer turned judicial expert, was tasked with investigating a road accident that occurred in 2016 in France on the A13 motorway with a now well-known dynamic: a truck had overturned after the left front tire burst. Duc’s conclusions say that the defect was due to a «premature disintegration» linked to the internal structure of the Goodyear Marathon LHS II tire. And it is not the first time that Marathon LHS II and LHS II+ series tires have been implicated in similar accidents since 2011. An internal Goodyear document consulted by Le Monde shows that in Spain there were 158 accidents with a total cost of 3.3 million euros in compensation from the American company, while in the Netherlands and France there were 8 and 81 accidents respectively, with compensation of up to 75 thousand EUR.

For the court of Nanterre Goodyear is responsible

The judicial investigation is still ongoing and prosecutor Etienne Manteaux has brought together several similar accident cases to try to demonstrate the existence of a systemic problem. In February 2023 the Nanterre court ruled that Goodyear was responsible for one of the accidents involving Rollet, but the company appealed. Goodyear has always denied all responsibility, offering only compensation and imposing confidentiality clauses on contracts and transactions. Following the publication of a documentary on the story of Sophie Rollet and the investigation by Le Monde the American company commented: «We are very saddened by the loss of Mrs. Rollet and her family due to the accident that occurred in 2014. Nothing is more important to Goodyear than the safety and quality of its products and the people who use them. Every tire developed, produced and distributed by Goodyear complies with all applicable regulations and is duly approved by the competent authorities. Goodyear implements rigorous procedures to monitor the performance of its products and takes any appropriate action, such as customer satisfaction campaigns, replacement programs or recalls, based in particular on industry feedback.”

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