Michelin North America has been fingered in a product liability suit alleging a tire not designed to minimize risk of injury caused a Harley Davidson to crash, resulting in the death of a passenger.

Representing the estate of Ianeta Crafton, Joseph Crafton filed suit against Michelin on April 14 in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, Sherman Division.

According to the lawsuit, on July 17 Ianeta and her husband, Jerrold Crafton Jr., were riding a 2001 Harley Davidson motorcycle on Highway 30 in Cumby when suddenly and without warning, the rear tire de-treaded, causing the motorcycle to leave the roadway and crash.

“Decedent was thrown from the motorcycle during the crash and came to rest in the middle of the intersection,” the suit states. “As a result of the tire failure, Decedent suffered severe injuries from which she died.”

The plaintiffs argue the tire, the Michelin Commander II, was defective.

“With respect to the design of the Tire, at the time it left the control of Defendant, there were safer alternative designs,” the suit states.

“Specifically, there were alternative designs that, in reasonably probability, would have prevented or significantly reduced the risk of injury to Decedent. Furthermore, such safer alternative designs were economically and technologically feasible at the time the product left the control of the Defendant by the application of existing or reasonably achievable scientific knowledge.”

Some of the ways the tire was allegedly defective, according to the suit, include:

- Improper adhesion of the steel belts to surrounding material resulting in tread belt separation and catastrophic failure during normal use;

- Failure to incorporate nylon overlays, nylon belt edge layers, nylon safety belts, gum edge strips, spiral wraps or other similar available counter-measures to reduce the hazard of tread belt separation;

- Failure to incorporate an adequate belt edge wedge to reduce or eliminate belt edge separation and tread belt separation;

- Failure to incorporate adequate steel to rubber bonding (skim stock);

- Lack of proper antioxidants and antiozonants to prevent aging of the rubber compounds;

- Failure to incorporate an effective inner liner; and

- Failure to incorporate a proper anti-degradant package.

The plaintiffs are seeking to recover wrongful death damages.

Dallas attorney James Mitchell of Payne Mitchell Law represents them.

Case No. 4:15-cv-00250

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