By Samantha Joseph, Daily Business Review
October 2, 2015
The Fourth District Court of Appeal broke with its normal schedule for releasing opinions to affirm a nearly $10 million award against Continental Tire in a products liability suit over a crash that injured Palm Beach Gardens resident Tracey Parker.
The one-page decision was issued nine days after arguments, indicating the court quickly found no legal basis for the appeal.
“This is a wonderful day for the Parker family,” said appellate attorney Julie Littky-Rubin, a partner at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin in Florida.
The court sided with Parker, who underwent more than 17 surgeries, including multilevel fusions in the neck, after a rear-tire blowout sent the tire flying off the rim of her Chevrolet Cobalt on Interstate 95. The car spun out of control, rolled over three times and ended with a crushed passenger compartment.
Parker, who was commuting to work in Port St. Lucie, suffered multiple injuries, including collapsed lungs, multiple broken vertebra, a shattered jaw, broken arm, ribs and scapula, and other injuries. The 39-year-old mother of three spent 102 days in the hospital, including more than a month in a coma.
Her suit charged Continental Tire The Americas LLC, one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, with producing a defective product that caused her catastrophic injuries.
After a three-week trial before Palm Beach Circuit Judge Janis Keyser, a jury held Continental Tire 90 percent responsible for the crash. It split the remainder of the blame between two Fabre defendants, General Motors Corp., which it found 6.5 percent responsible, and Parker’s husband, Edward.
Jurors awarded Tracey Parker more than $2 million for past and future medical costs, $867,356 for past and future lost wages and $7 million for past and future pain and suffering. They also awarded Edward Parker $1 million for loss of consortium. The total award stood at $9.87 million after the deduction for comparative fault.
“After so much suffering, the jury ruled that Continental was responsible for causing it, and the Fourth District agreed with what the jury ruled,” Littky-Rubin said.
In trial, Continental blamed improper tire inflation and uneven tire wear.
Samantha Joseph can be reached at 954-468-2614.
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