According to Automotive News, Flemington Buick-Chevrolet-GMC in Flemington, N.J is to pay 3 million dollars in punitive damages for failing to disclose that a rear tire was going bald when a customer had a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer in for service.
"According to documents from the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, Roy Allen bought the TrailBlazer new from Flemington. He also bought GM Major Guard extended service and GM Smart Care maintenance contracts. The dealership last serviced the vehicle three days before the April 2009 accident in which the tire blew out on Interstate 95 in Virginia while the plaintiffs, members of the Allen family, were traveling to Florida."
The court determined that the service department did not review previous service documents that showed problems with the tread depth and wear patterns. When Mr. Allen was driving on Interstate 95 the tire blew out, causing the vehicle to roll several times. Investigators at the scene of the accident noted that the rear tire did have a bald spot. During the court proceedings, the service manager admitted that the shop should have recommended replacing the tire.
"In short, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that Flemington was wantonly indifferent to a high probability of injury when it failed to recommend tire replacement."
Initially the jury awarded the plaintiff 2 million in compensatory damages and 5.5 million in punitive damages. The dealership appealed the decision, and an appeals panel settled on a final verdict of 3 million in punitive damages.
The lesson here folks is that for something as simple as tire-safety, regular inspections is key. Do not assume that because a dealer sold you a vehicle that it is automatically safe to drive.
(image credit Wikipedia)