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Thompson v. Hankook Tire America Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

July 8, 2015

J. GARRISON THOMPSON, as Administrator and Personal Representative of the Estate of Kay Latham Holbrook, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
HANKOOK TIRE AMERICA CORP., a foreign corporation; et al., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

BERT W. MILLING, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

This action is before the Magistrate Judge for issuance of a report and recommendation, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b), on the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant Hankook Tire Company, Ltd. (Docs. 57, 51). Plaintiff has responded to Defendant's motion (doc. 56), and the motion is ripe for resolution. After carefully considering the foregoing pleadings and other relevant material in the record, it is recommended that Defendant Hankook Tire Co., Ltd.'s motion to dismiss (Doc. 57) be denied.

I. BACKGROUND.

Decedent, Kay Latham Holbrook, was working as a cement truck driver for Holbrook Ready Mix when he was involved in a fatal single vehicle accident on July 30, 2011. (Doc. 36 at 4). The Holbrook Ready Mix cement truck involved in the crash had been purchased approximately a month and a half earlier, on June 10, 2011, from Shelby Concrete, Inc. (Doc. 1-13 at 21). Plaintiff claims that the cement truck's left front tire "suddenly and without warning detreaded causing the driver[, Mr. Holbrook, ] to lose control of his vehicle, crashing into a bridge railing, which then caused the vehicle to overturn." (Doc. 36 at 4). The tire subject to the blowout was a Hankook AH10 425/65R22.5 tire manufactured by Defendant Hankook Tire Co., Ltd. ("Hankook Tire") and was mounted on the vehicle at the time of purchase from Shelby Concrete, Inc. ( Id. ). Plaintiff details that the tire in question had been retreaded or recapped by GCR Tire Center and mounted on the truck prior to Shelby Concrete, Inc. selling the vehicle to Holbrook Ready Mix. ( Id. ).

On June 28, 2013, Plaintiff, the administrator and personal representative of the Estate of Kay Latham Holbrook, brought suit against multiple defendants, including Defendant Hankook Tire, for the wrongful death of Mr. Holbrook.[1]

II. DISCUSSION.

Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint on the basis that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion questions the legal sufficiency of a complaint (or portions of a complaint); therefore, in assessing the merits of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must assume that all the factual allegations set forth in the complaint are true. See, e.g., United States v. Gaubert, 499 U.S. 315, 327, 111 S.Ct. 1267, 113 L.Ed.2d 335 (1991); Powell v. Lennon, 914 F.2d 1459, 1463 (11th Cir. 1990). Moreover, all factual allegations are to be construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., Brower v. Cnty. of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 598, 109 S.Ct. 1378, 103 L.Ed.2d 628 (1989).

The complaint alleges that Hankook Tire:

... [D]esigned, engineered, manufactured, advertised, tested, inspected, sold, distributed, or otherwise placed into the stream of commerce the Hankook AH10 425/65R22.5 tire... in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition....
[Hankook Tire] reasonably expected that the Hankook tire would reach the ultimate consumer, or user, in the condition they were in at the time of the occurrence, made the basis of this lawsuit....
The Hankook tire was unreasonably dangerous and defective and the defects existing therein subjected the Plaintiff's decedent to an unreasonably risk of harm in that the tire, as designed, had a substantial propensity to deteriorate, experience tread separation, blow-out or otherwise experience failures before the useful life of the tire had expired....
The Hankook tire, which is the subject matter of this lawsuit, was defective in the following respects:
(a) Improper design of the tire from a handling, durability instability standpoint;
(b) Improper design and manufacture of the tire so as to create an unreasonable and dangerous propensity to separate under ...

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