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Virginia jury issues €30m verdict against Hankook

Richmond, Virginia – A federal jury in Virginia has levied a verdict of $37.8 million (€30.5 million) against Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. and Hankook Tire America Corp., finding the tire maker liable for an accident that rendered the plaintiff paraplegic.

The jury before the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia handed down the verdict 9 March.

According to the amended complaint filed 12 July, the accident occurred 14 Nov 2014. Robert Benedict was driving a 2007 Kenworth T800 Cement Mixer Truck on Route 288 near Iron Bridge Road in Richmond.

The right front steer tire, a Hankook Aurora TH08 Radial size 425/65 R22.5, allegedly lost its tread and outer steel belt, causing the truck to hit an embankment and roll over, the complaint said. Benedict suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paraplegic, it said.

The complaint alleged that the Hankook Aurora tire had insufficient halobutyl in its inner liner compound to prevent oxygen from leaking into other components of the tire, weakening those components and leading to the tread and belt separation.

It also alleged that the manufacturing process Hankook used resulted in inadequate bonding of the tread to the carcass.

In its answer to the complaint, Hankook denied that the tire was defective. It said the tire met or exceeded all applicable federal safety standards, and that Benedict failed to take proper care of the tire.

In a prepared statement, Hankook said it “respectfully but strongly” disagreed with the jury verdict.

“While our thoughts are with Mr. Benedict, we remain confident in the quality of our tires and maintain that no manufacturing defects played a role in this tragic accident,” Hankook said. “We are weighing potential next steps in this case.”