A judge in Louisiana state court has ordered Goodyear to pay a total of $6.7 million in damage to the family and employer of a man who was killed in a February 2014 accident involving a Goodyear G182 tyre.
Elwood Breaux Jr., an employee of the Plaquemines Parish Government, was killed when a tyre he was inflating exploded due to zipper failure in the sidewall. The air released during tyre burst slammed Breaux backwards and he dies 28 days later of massive internal injuries to his chest and abdomen.
The damage calculated for Breaux, his five children and his wife are at $6.7 million but about $481,000 of that will reimburse the parish for workers’ compensation. State law will return some of that to the family’s share and judicial interest will add at least $1.4 million to the total, New Orleans Attorney Danny Meeks, who represented the family, said.
A Goodyear spokesman said the company is disappointed with the verdict and will appeal.
What is a Zipper Failure?
A zipper failure is a circumferential rupture in the mid-sidewall of a steel-corded radial truck tyre normally due to tyre being overloaded or underinflation. These are particularly dangerous as they are unpredictable and often occur with little or no warning. It is accompanied by a deafening blast with the explosive force of a pound of dynamite leaving a 10” to 36” zipper rupture in the sidewall
What causes a Zipper Failure?
Steel-belted radials truck tyres are made of steel cord sidewall plies to maintain the strength and integrity of the tyre structure. They support the chamber, containing the air that carries the load. A puncture, leaking valve or any source of air leak can lead to substantial air loss. Underinflated or overloaded tyres will experience increased flexing and heat build-up. This causes severe bending of the steel cords and results in tread separations and zipper ruptures.
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Precautions to be taken
Avoid inflating any tyre that has been significantly underinflated until it has been adequately checked. Examine tyre for signs of damage, such as cracks, bulging, soft spots or exposed steel cord in the tyre carcass. Stay outside the likely explosion trajectory, when re-inflating a tyre. Watch and listen for signs that might indicate a zipper failure. If you find anything suspicious, do not approach the tyre to deflate it- use the quick-release connection at the operator’s end of the hose.