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Tire Defect Litigation

The lawyers of Watts Guerra have long been known for their expertise in tire defect litigation. In 2000, Mikal Watts and his friend Tab Turner of Arkansas, led a national legal effort which blew the lid open on the Firestone tire/Ford Explorer product debacle, which led to the recall of 17 million defective tires. After settling the seminal case of Donna Bailey v. Ford & Firestone only when the high-level executives of both Ford and Firestone publicly apologized to her in her hospital room, our lawyers continued to press the fight, trying the first case in the country involving the Firestone ATX or Wilderness AT tires. During his closing argument, Mikal Watts pointed out to the jury that with these tires “Firestone had killed more people than Timothy McVeigh.” Three days into jury deliberations, we achieved a publicly-revealed settlement in the amount of more than $13.5 million. In that case, attorneys fees were $5,400,000, litigation expenses withheld were $758,233, with net client recoveries were $7,341,767. In the years that followed, our lawyers have achieved settlements in almost 150 cases against the tire and auto companies for similar defects in their tires.

The Ford/Firestone debacle caused Congress to enact the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (“TREAD”) Act. The TREAD Act focused on identifying potential problems in a tire before the tire comes apart and causes death and injuries. This changed our firm’s focus from manufacturing defects in the tires when they leave the assembly plant to the negligence of others for failing to pull visually defective and worn out tires off of the road.

In the mid-2000s, the lawyers at Watts Guerra achieved major settlements from entities such as Discount Tire, Walmart, Sears and other retail establishments for their failure to pull tires off the road when the tire exhibited obvious defects and excessive wear. For example, in 2004, Mikal Watts tried a case against Sears for the failure of its tire technician to pull a worn tire off a vehicle it was being paid to inspect. As a result of a subsequent tire failure, a rollover accident occurred, killing two occupants of the vehicle. The jury sided with our clients, and awarded them $9,475,000. Attorneys fees were $3,996,000, litigation expenses withheld were $817,300, and net client recoveries were $5,176,700.

Our settlement In 2007 with Walmart led the nationwide retailer to change its policies concerning its inspection of tires.

In 2009, Mikal Watts tried a tire defect case against Michelin, alleging that manufacturing defects in one of its tires caused a motor vehicle collision, killing our client. The jury sided with the Plaintiffs, awarding them $11,964,000. Attorneys fees were $2,871,360, litigation expenses withheld were $258,779, and net client recoveries were $3,515,754.

Most recently, Mikal Watts and Guy Watts achieved a $19.25 million verdict against Landstar Express, arising from a collision involving Plaintiffs’ vehicle and Defendant’s truck following a tire detread event. The resulting impacted caused the death of the driver, and serious orthopedic and internal injuries to the three passengers. Settlements against the four defendants in the case totaled $6,097,667, with total attorneys fees of $2,399,067, total litigation expenses of $521,750, and net client recoveries of $3,176,850.

Landstar defended the case on the ground that the Plaintiff should have been able to control his vehicle following the tire detread event. Both the cross examination of Landstar’s tire expert, and the Closing Argument in the Bruno case are provided for your viewing below.


If a family member or a client has been injured or killed in a collision caused by a tire failure, securing the tire is essential. Once the tire and vehicle are obtained by Watts Guerra, we initiate a detailed inspection protocol to document the available evidence.

The lawyers of Watts Guerra have sustained experience and expertise in taking on the tire manufacturers and retailers in court, and therefore, collectively have achieved settlements for our firm’s clients in a combined amount exceeding $469 million. Of these recoveries in tire defect cases, total attorneys fees were $181,395,734, the litigation expenses withheld totaled $19,879,360, and net client recoveries were $267,780,489.

Case Type Injury Settlement Amount Attorney Fees Expenses Net to Client
Tire Failure Quadriplegia 25,000,000 10,000,000 720,000 14,280,000 25,000,000
Tire Failure Quadriplegia 15,740,000 6,296,000 550,000 8,894,000 15,740,000
Tire Failure Quadriplegia 12,000,000 4,000,000 212,210 7,787,790 12,000,000
Tire Failure Death 10,000,000 4,000,000 600,000 5,400,000 10,000,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 9,000,000 3,600,000 331,641 5,068,359 9,000,000
Tire Failure Death 8,100,000 3,090,000 219,314 4,790,686 8,100,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 8,000,000 2,800,000 17,945 5,182,055 8,000,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 8,000,000 2,666,667 455,000 4,878,333 8,000,000
Tire Failure Death 7,463,185 2,985,274 158,325 4,319,586 7,463,185
Tire Failure Death 7,200,000 2,880,000 394,642 3,925,358 7,200,000
Tire Failure Death 7,125,000 2,850,000 198,014 4,076,986 7,125,000
Tire Failure Death 6,700,000 2,680,000 58,000 3,962,000 6,700,000
Tire Failure Death 6,400,000 2,560,000 54,000 3,786,000 6,400,000
Tire Failure Death 6,156,600 2,462,640 412,500 3,281,460 6,156,600
Tire Failure Death 6,000,000 2,400,000 273,157 3,326,843 6,000,000
Tire Failure Death 6,000,000 2,700,000 28,556 3,271,444 6,000,000
Tire Failure Severe Brain Damage 6,000,000 2,421,000 483,072 3,095,928 6,000,000
Tire Failure Death 6,000,000 2,400,000 262,696 3,337,304 6,000,000
Tire Failure Death 6,000,000 1,195,000 914,519 3,890,481 6,000,000
Tire Failure Quadriplegia 6,000,000 2,400,000 273,157 3,326,843 6,000,000
Tire Failure Permanent Physical Injuries 5,800,000 2,205,760 970,889 2,623,351 5,800,000
Tire Failure Death 5,749,500 2,301,031 292,115 3,156,354 5,749,500
Tire Failure Death 5,500,000 2,200,000 55,000 3,245,000 5,500,000
Tire Failure Permanent Physical Injuries 5,500,000 1,925,000 38,385 3,536,615 5,500,000
Tire Failure Brain Injury 5,000,000 1,666,667 164,925 3,168,409 5,000,000
Tire Failure Permanent Physical Injuries 5,000,000 2,000,000 205,541 2,794,459 5,000,000
Tire Failure Closed Head Injury; Facial Fractures 4,500,000 1,800,000 83,475 2,616,525 4,500,000
Tire Failure Left Hand Crushed and Severed 4,500,000 1,800,000 28,194 2,671,806 4,500,000
Tire Failure Death 4,500,000 1,800,000 79,173 2,620,827 4,500,000
Tire Failure Death 4,400,000 1,760,000 71,511 2,568,489 4,400,000
Tire Failure Death 4,400,000 1,760,000 16,716 2,623,284 4,400,000
Tire Failure Death 4,325,000 1,730,000 41,884 2,553,116 4,325,000
Tire Failure Death 4,250,000 1,487,500 47,864 2,714,636 4,250,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 4,025,000 1,336,333 52,851 2,635,816 4,025,000
Tire Failure Head Injury/Upper and Lower Body Fractures 4,000,000 1,600,000 176,251 2,223,749 4,000,000
Tire Failure Death 4,000,000 1,600,000 17,418 2,382,582 4,000,000
Tire Failure Death 4,000,000 1,600,000 404,485 1,995,515 4,000,000
Tire Failure Death 3,900,000 1,560,000 275,261 2,064,739 3,900,000
Tire Failure Death 3,750,000 1,380,500 104,601 2,264,899 3,750,000
Tire Failure Compound Injuries to the Knee 3,650,000 1,460,000 33,731 2,156,269 3,650,000
Tire Failure Lower BOdy Fractures 3,500,000 1,400,000 14,586 2,085,414 3,500,000
Tire Failure Quadriplegia 3,500,000 1,400,000 102,000 1,998,000 3,500,000
Tire Failure Death 3,431,625 1,372,650 97,956 1,961,019 3,431,625
Tire Failure Death 3,406,390 1,362,556 87,500 1,956,334 3,406,390
Tire Failure Death 3,250,000 1,300,000 10,862 1,939,138 3,250,000
Tire Failure Death 3,150,000 1,260,000 78,599 1,811,401 3,150,000
Tire Failure Death 3,075,000 1,230,000 50,000 1,795,000 3,075,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 3,075,000 1,230,000 555,885 1,289,115 3,075,000
Tire Failure Death 3,000,000 1,350,000 16,987 1,633,013 3,000,000
Tire Failure Death 3,000,000 1,074,627 30,011 1,895,362 3,000,000
Tire Failure Death 3,000,000 1,216,000 211,829 1,572,171 3,000,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 2,900,000 1,160,000 25,850 1,714,150 2,900,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 2,850,000 1,140,000 245,581 1,464,419 2,850,000
Tire Failure Death 2,750,000 1,100,000 312,000 1,338,000 2,750,000
Tire Failure Death 2,700,000 1,080,000 85,312 1,534,688 2,700,000
Tire Failure Death 2,590,000 1,036,000 43,775 1,510,225 2,590,000
Tire Failure Death 2,510,000 1,004,000 11,789 1,494,211 2,510,000
Tire Failure Back Injury; Multiple Contusions and Lacerations 2,500,000 1,000,000 9,222 1,490,778 2,500,000
Tire Failure Lower Body fractures; Internal Injuries 2,500,000 1,000,000 32,327 1,467,673 2,500,000
Tire Failure Amputation, Spinal Cord Injury, Closed Head Injury 2,500,000 999,700 99,018 1,401,282 2,500,000
Tire Failure Death 2,450,000 980,000 210,500 1,259,500 2,450,000
Tire Failure Death 2,375,000 950,000 7,500 1,417,500 2,375,000
Tire Failure Death 2,355,000 942,000 7,500 1,405,500 2,355,000
Tire Failure Death 2,300,000 920,000 75,500 1,304,500 2,300,000
Tire Failure Death 2,300,000 633,080 23,665 1,643,255 2,300,000
Tire Failure Death 2,250,000 900,000 18,600 1,331,400 2,250,000
Tire Failure Death 2,200,000 880,000 192,500 1,127,500 2,200,000
Tire Failure Death 2,175,000 880,000 119,603 1,175,397 2,175,000
Tire Failue Death 2,100,000 605,000 110,264 1,384,736 2,100,000
Tire Failure Death 2,070,000 828,000 10,011 1,231,989 2,070,000
Tire Failure Death 2,050,000 820,000 45,071 1,184,929 2,050,000
Tire Failure Internal Bleeding; Rib Fractures 2,050,000 820,000 35,500 1,194,500 2,050,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 800,000 76,830 1,123,170 2,000,000
Tire Failure Closed Head Injury 2,000,000 800,000 3,281 1,196,719 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 800,000 12,865 1,187,135 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 800,000 49,420 1,150,580 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 800,000 333,397 866,603 2,000,000
Tire Failure Quadriplegia 2,000,000 800,000 333,397 866,603 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 760,000 29,421 1,210,579 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 760,000 180,017 1,059,983 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 800,000 132,629 1,067,371 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,200,000 480,000 31,630 688,370 1,200,000
Tire Failure Death 2,000,000 736,000 107,380 1,156,620 2,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,950,000 732,794 166,822 1,050,384 1,950,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 1,950,000 780,000 47,458 1,122,542 1,950,000
Tire Failure Arm and Knee Injuries; Internal Injuries 1,925,000 770,000 76,310 1,078,690 1,925,000
Tire Failure Death 1,900,000 760,000 17,034 1,122,966 1,900,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 430,032 121,573 448,395 1,000,000
Tire Failure Closed Head Injury; Fractured Ribs 1,850,000 740,000 22,500 1,087,500 1,850,000
Tire Failure Permanent Physical Injuries 1,800,000 720,000 59,635 1,020,365 1,800,000
Tire Failure Death 1,800,000 720,000 33,350 1,046,650 1,800,000
Tire Failure Death 1,750,000 639,529 430,847 679,625 1,750,000
Tire Failure Upper Body Fractures; Internal Injury 1,725,000 690,000 214,758 820,242 1,725,000
Tire Failure Death 1,675,000 670,000 44,831 960,169 1,675,000
Tire Failure Permanent Physical Injuries 1,675,000 666,935 8,236 999,829 1,675,000
Tire Failure Amputation 1,650,000 532,737 53,736 1,063,528 1,650,000
Tire Failure Death 1,650,000 532,737 49,736 1,067,527 1,650,000
Tire Failure Death 1,600,000 640,000 91,054 868,946 1,600,000
Tire Failure Death 1,575,000 630,000 25,500 919,500 1,575,000
Tire Failure Death 1,550,000 447,780 123,236 978,984 1,550,000
Tire Failure Brain Injury 1,550,000 606,667 122,991 820,342 1,550,000
Tire Failure Closed Head Injury 1,500,000 600,000 58,486 841,514 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 1,500,000 600,000 25,514 874,486 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 1,500,000 600,000 81,503 818,497 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 1,500,000 600,000 58,578 841,422 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 1,500,000 600,000 50,833 849,167 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 1,500,000 600,000 57,083 842,917 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 1,425,000 570,000 55,103 799,897 1,425,000
Tire Failure Death 1,400,000 560,000 25,500 814,500 1,400,000
Tire Failure Spinal Cord Injury; Closed Head Injury 1,400,000 560,000 27,861 812,139 1,400,000
Tire Failure Death 1,400,000 498,667 143,025 758,308 1,400,000
Tire Failure Spinal Cord Injury; Closed Head Injury 1,382,000 601,650 88,944 691,406 1,382,000
Tire Failure Death 1,331,000 492,400 13,622 824,978 1,331,000
Tire Failure Spinal Cord Injury 1,300,000 436,583 44,674 818,743 1,300,000
Tire Failure Upper Body Fractures; Internal Injury 1,250,000 500,000 20,811 729,189 1,250,000
Tire Failure Upper and Lower Body Fractures 1,250,000 416,667 88,123 745,210 1,250,000
Tire Failure Paraplegia 1,250,000 400,000 55,463 794,537 1,250,000
Tire Failure Death 1,250,000 500,000 80,679 669,321 1,250,000
Tire Failure Traumatic Brain Injury 1,225,000 490,000 19,560 715,440 1,225,000
Tire Failure Broken Vertebra; Head Contusions 1,200,000 480,000 72,286 647,714 1,200,000
Tire Failure Closed Head Injury 1,200,000 462,000 18,543 719,457 1,200,000
Tire Failure Death 1,200,000 540,000 9,092 650,908 1,200,000
Tire Failure Death 1,200,000 480,000 6,098 713,902 1,200,000
Tire Failure Death 1,150,000 460,000 75,620 614,380 1,150,000
Tire Failure Death 1,100,000 402,325 89,189 608,487 1,100,000
Tire Failure Death 1,100,000 403,333 276,981 419,685 1,100,000
Tire Failure Death 1,100,000 440,000 25,750 634,250 1,100,000
Tire Failure Internal Injury 1,100,000 402,325 94,189 603,487 1,100,000
Tire Failure Death 1,050,000 420,000 21,940 608,060 1,050,000
Tire Failure Amputation; Catastrophic Head Injury 1,010,000 404,500 16,897 588,603 1,010,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 9,274 590,726 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 4,110 595,890 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 415,000 25,115 559,885 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 4,517 595,483 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 403,333 75,125 521,542 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 21,478 578,522 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 450,000 19,438 530,562 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 114,981 202,827 682,193 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 50,162 549,838 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 388,667 255,784 355,549 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 47,236 552,764 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 266,700 12,492 720,808 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 427,500 61,876 510,624 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 288,955 273,349 437,697 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,000,000 400,000 23,962 576,038 1,000,000
Tire Failure Death 1,500,000 600,000 23,824 876,176 1,500,000
Tire Failure Death 980,000 313,600 157,314 509,086 980,000
Tire Detread/SUV Rollover Death 1,242,780 446,042 86,958 709,780 1,242,780
Tire Failure Fractures to Ribs; Chest Wall Injury 900,000 360,000 42,368 497,632 900,000
Tire Failure Upper Body Fractures; Internal Injury 900,000 360,000 48,733 491,267 900,000
Tire Failure Death 900,000 360,000 148,009 391,991 900,000
Tire Failure Death 895,000 385,206 107,810 401,984 895,000
Tire Failure Death 867,000 346,667 121,979 398,354 867,000
Tire Detread/Rollover Death 1,000,000 395,667 51,907 552,426 1,000,000
Tire Detread/Rollover Death 825,000 360,000 212,780 252,220 825,000
Tire Detread Spinal Cord Injury 800,000 316,753 51,741 431,506 800,000
Tire Failure Death 470,000 184,381 23,808 261,811 470,000
Tire Failure Death 800,000 320,000 21,086 458,914 800,000
Tire Detread/Rollover Death 800,000 320,000 30,596 449,404 800,000
Tire Failure Death 800,000 320,000 74,727 405,273 800,000
Tire Detread Death 750,000 295,133 49,202 405,665 750,000
Tire Failure Death 750,000 300,000 16,910 433,090 750,000
Tire Failure Death 660,000 264,000 55,219 340,781 660,000
Tire Failure Death 625,000 250,000 59,403 315,597 625,000
Tire Failure Closed Head Injury 600,000 210,000 2,013 387,987 600,000
Tire Failure Death 600,000 240,000 91,733 268,267 600,000
Tire Failure Death 600,000 237,199 2,652 360,149 600,000
Tire Failure Partial Shoulder Replacement 600,000 240,000 1,030 358,970 600,000
Tire Detread Death 600,000 240,000 41,507 318,493 600,000
Tire Detread Death 600,000 240,000 22,003 337,997 600,000
Tire Detread Brain Damage 600,000 240,000 63,218 296,782 600,000
Tire Failure Death 600,000 240,000 89,535 270,465 600,000
Tire Detread Death 600,000 258,600 7,380 334,020 600,000
Tire Detread Death 600,000 240,000 59,618 300,382 600,000
Tire Failure Death 520,000 197,739 57,672 264,589 520,000
Tire Failure Death 550,000 220,000 45,809 284,191 550,000
Tire Detread Death 500,000 200,000 800 299,200 500,000
Tire Detread Death 600,000 192,000 25,255 382,745 600,000
Tire Detread Death 525,000 210,000 9,251 305,749 525,000
Settlement Amount Attorney Fees Expenses Net to Client
Total 469,055,580 181,395,735 19,879,360 267,780,489