Product Liability

Lawsuit Involving Fatal Tire Explosion Revived by Oregon Appeals Court

shredded tire BA istock1 Lawsuit Involving Fatal Tire Explosion Revived by Oregon Appeals CourtA wrongful death lawsuit filed by an Air Force officer whose wife was killed by an exploding tire has been revived by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

U.S. Air Force Captain Scott Wilcox claims in his lawsuit that a Toyo tire made by Toyo Holdings of America and sold to him by Les Schwab Tire Center of Oregon in 2014 was defective and caused his wife Jenna’s death in the U.K. in March 2010, The Oregonian reported.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jenna Wilcox, also an Air Force Captain, had just returned to the U.K. from a tour of Afghanistan where she had survived a roadside bomb attack. She and her husband, also 27, were stationed at the Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England. The couple had their BMW Z3 shipped from Oregon to the U.K.

The couple was driving to Scotland for a break when their car started making a vibrating sound. Mr. Wilcox stopped the car to check the tires. After talking with a mechanic about the problem, he removed the rear passenger-side tire to replace it with a spare.

They didn’t want to abandon the defective tire on the side of the road, so Jenna held it in her lap, having no other room in the sportscar.

A short time later, for unknown reasons, the Toyo tire exploded on Jenna’s lap. The blast caused her a severe head injury, back fracture, ruptured spleen, and lacerated liver. She was taken to a hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she died of her injuries five days later.

Scott’s lawsuit against Toyo and Les Schwab alleges that the companies made and sold the dangerously defective tire. He seeks $10.5 million in damages.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Chris Marshall dismissed the case, finding that Scott had failed to meet the three-year statute of limitations to file suit in his wife’s death.

The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, finding the circuit judge misinterpreted a federal law that allows U.S. servicemembers on active duty additional time beyond the normal limits of the statute to take legal action.