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Michelin Hit With $30M Ruling

November 15, 1997

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A truck driver has won a $30.1 million judgment for a wreck, blamed on a tire blowout, that cost him both of his legs.

Michelin Tire Co., the world’s biggest tire maker, is liable for 90 percent of the verdict reached Friday by a Circuit Court jury.

``I felt like fainting,″ Julian Lovett said after the verdict.

His left front tire blew out on April 24, 1989, sending his 18-wheeler swerving into a ditch. Both of his legs were amputated above the knees.

His attorney, Joe Reiter, charged that the tire design allowed water to seep into the rubber, rusting the tire’s reinforcing steel wire and loosening the bond between steel and rubber.

Michelin’s lawyers dismissed that theory as ``junk science″ and said the accident was caused by a combination of factors, including tire wear, misuse of a highway tire on farm country roads, and corrosion caused by fertilizer, Lovett’s cargo.

The jury assigned 9 percent of the blame to the tire’s distributor, and split the remaining 1 percent between Lovett and his employer, a now-defunct trucking company.

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