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McCloud v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America

August 23, 2007

TRISH LEE MCCLOUD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GOODYEAR DUNLOP TIRES NORTH AMERICA, LTD., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joe Billy McDade United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 364) filed on August 17, 2007. Defendant filed a Response (Doc. 366) to the Motion on August 19, 2007. Included in the Response is an additional Motion for a Curative Instruction. Also before the Court is a second Motion for a Curative Instruction (Doc. 369) filed by Defendant on August 21, 2007. All of these motions were filed after the second week of a three week trial. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED, and Defendant's Motions are DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has brought her Motion seeking sanctions during a trial involving a tire blowout on a motorcycle. Plaintiff has brought suit against the tire manufacturer.

Plaintiff believes that the testimony elicited at trial demonstrates that Defendant provided untruthful responses to interrogatories during discovery. These untruthful responses hid the identity of the individual who inspected the subject tire that was involved in the blowout.

At trial, Defendant's corporate representative, Tom Rolls, testified that each tire inspector is assigned an inspector identification number. After each tire is inspected, the inspector stamps his number onto the tire. While this number can wear off, if a number is visible, the number can be used to trace who inspected the tire.

Plaintiff argues that they were told in interrogatories by Defendant that there was no way to locate or identify the individual who inspected the subject tire in this case. Plaintiff states that if they had known about the identification numbers before trial, they would have made an effort to discern the number on the subject tire and would have sought to depose the actual inspector and presented his testimony at trial.

On May 18, 2005, in Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, Plaintiff made the following inquiry at interrogatory number three:

Please identify and describe the testing to which the subject tire, and or each of its component parts, was put. Please also state whether the subject tire was inspected by any employee by defendant Dunlop subsequent to its manufacture, and if so, identify the employee and describe the inspection. (Doc. 365 at Ex. C, p. 4.)

Defendant provided a lengthy response complete with objections. The complete response is as follows:

DUNLOP incorporates its general objections to the definition of "subject tire" set forth in the "Definitions and Instructions" accompanying plaintiff's interrogatories. In addition, DUNLOP objects to this interrogatory on the grounds that it is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and seeks information that is neither relevant to the subject matter of this litigation nor reasonably calculated to lead to relevant or admissible evidence. DUNLOP further objects to this request on the grounds that it seeks confidential trade secret information and/or other proprietary information whose disclosure would cause DUNLOP irreparable competitive harm.

Without waiving its objections, and subject to DUNLOP's definition of "subject tire" as a Dunlop Qualifier K627B 150/90B15M/C74H tire bearing DOT No. DAWVM711200, DUNLOP states that every cured tire is thoroughly inspected by a trained inspector. DUNLOP has not been able to identify the inspector of the subject tire. (emphasis added)

Further, Dunlop refers plaintiff to the testing standards and compliance test results pertaining to Standard No. 119 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. DUNLOP will produce these materials following the entry of a suitable protective order intended to safeguard their confidentiality. (Doc. 364, Ex. D at 5.)

On December 30, Plaintiff submitted a Second Set of Interrogatories. At interrogatory twenty-five, Plaintiff made the following request:

Please identify by name, address and telephone number each and every motorcycle tire tire [sic] inspector that worked for defendant Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd., during the 12th and 13th weeks of 2000 at the plant where the subject tire was manufactured and state the date each was hired, describe the training each received and state whether or not they are currently employed by any defendant to this lawsuit. (Doc. 364, Ex F. at 5.)

Defendant in turn made the following response:

DUNLOP objects to this interrogatory on the grounds that it is unduly burdensome, is grossly overly broad, and seeks information that is neither relevant to the subject matter of this litigation nor reasonably calculated to lead to relevant or admissible evidence, specifically but not limited to its request for information regarding employees not involved in the inspection of the subject tire.

Without waiving its objection, DUNLOP responds as follow: [sic] Based upon the date of manufacture, there are at least 15 potential inspectors who may have inspected the tire at issue. Defendant is unable to identify the specific individual who participated in the inspection of the subject tire. At the time of the manufacture of the subject tire, inspectors at DUNLOP were responsible for the inspection of all motorcycle, passenger and light truck tires.

Therefore, there is no way to isolate who inspected the subject tire or any tires from the subject tire line. However, in the spirit of cooperation defendant identifies Mr. Thomas Bushen as one of the ...


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