Tepei v. Uniroyal

Record $12.4 million judgment against ICBC insured.

In October of 1996, seven members of a Port Coquitlam family were injured in a single-car collision when their vehicle suffered a tire blowout near Chehalis, Washington on Interstate 5. The Tepei vehicle flipped over the concrete median of the highway and landed upside down in the southbound lanes of traffic. Four members of the family were ejected and suffered serious injuries which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Initial investigation suggested that driver error and a defect in the manufacture of the vehicle's tires likely contributed to the collision. Cross Border Law worked with over 30 treating doctors, expert medical witnesses and tire design experts in developing both the liability and damages case on behalf of the Tepei family. We retained experts from both the United States and Canada to develop the relationship between the accident and our clients' injuries, and to assist in illustrating the limitations which their injuries had caused in their everyday lives. We also brought in a tire manufacturing and design expert from the United Kingdom to establish that a simple modification to the internal design of the tires on the Tepei vehicle would have prevented the blowout and the resulting accident from taking place.

The manufacturer of the tires made significant efforts to have the Tepei's lawsuit dismissed to British Columbia, or tried in accord with British Columbia legal principles. Application of British Columbia law would have made it harder for the Tepeis to prove liability on the part of the tire maker, and would have reduced the amount of compensation the family could obtain. We turned back every attempt made by the manufacturer to minimize our clients' recovery, and proceeded to trial in Washington State. Lawyers can read about the procedural history of the case in  the June 2004 issue of the TLABC Verdict.

After a seven-week trial in Lewis County, Washington, the jury returned a verdict in favour of the Tepeis for $12.4 million. The verdict is believed to be the largest damages award ever entered against an ICBC insured driver, and is the first Lewis County verdict ever awarded in excess of US $1 million.

*These are excellent results. No trial results can ever be guaranteed, as the outcome of any litigation and/or the amount recovered will vary according to the facts presented by individual cases. Past successes are not necessarily determinative of future results.

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