Tampa man sues tire maker over wife's death

By Al Pefley - email

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL (WFLX) - How old are your tires? You may want to check after you read this story.

A Tampa woman, Jessica Michel, died in a roll-over crash last year, and left behind a husband and three small children ages 6, 4 and 1.

Attorneys for her family say the crash happened due to an aging rear tire that blew out on their Lexus SUV.

"She means the world to me, not just me but the kids, too. I think about her everyday. And you know we all miss her. The kids ask a lot everyday, especially my daughter," the victim's husband, Don Michel, said.

In their lawsuit, they say the tire was six years old when it was installed on the SUV; even though, it was sold as a new tire.

Lawyers say a tire that age may look new, but degrades over time and the Florida heat makes it happen faster, weakening the tire.

"They should've made the owner of the vehicle, the purchaser of the tire aware of what he was putting on his vehicle, and what the risks were, that as a tire ages it degrades," said Leslie Kroeger, an attorney with Leopold-Kuvin in Palm Beach Gardens.

The suit names Goodyear, a Tampa auto repair shop that installed the tire, and Toyota which made the Lexus SUV. They told us they don't comment on pending litigation.

Kroeger advises when shopping for a tire, look for one that was manufactured in the past 12 months. Some states have a law that requires a retailer to inform the customer of the date a tire was manufactured and the risks associated with aging tires.  Florida, she says, does not have such a law.

The date a tire was manufactured can be found on the side of the tire.