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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Oscar Mendez was driving a Mazda minivan with seven passengers in New Mexico when the tread of the van’s Sigma Grand Sport Radial Tire, manufactured by Cooper Tire, separated. The minivan veered to the right as Mendez tried to control it, but the van eventually flipped over. Six of the seven passengers, some of whom were not wearing seatbelts, were ejected from the minivan. One passenger died at the scene; another three died on arrival at the hospital. The accident survivors, plus the estate administrators of the deceased, sued Cooper Tire, saying the tire had a defect when it left Cooper’s possession. At the jury trial, three experts testified for the plaintiffs about the tire’s defects: Richard “Rex” Grogan, Alan Milner and Jon Crate. Grogran testified as a tire failure analyst. He explained the tire manufacturing process, and he consulted with a rubber specialist in England, RAPRA Technology, about the possible cause of the tire’s failure. He testified as to the role wax plays in belt separation problems and he concluded that the tire’s failure could not have been caused by a nail hole. The RAPRA report was introduced into evidence, and Richard Angell, a former Cooper Tire employee, testified about what he thought was the excessive use of waxes in the tire manufacturing process. Milner, a professional engineer, testified about the tire’s integrity after it had been sealed to repair a nail hole or other type of puncture. Crate was brought in to interpret the RAPRA report results. Two other witnesses testified about causation. Stephen Arndt concluded that the initial tread separation interacted with the wheel well and caused a dragging and pulling of the vehicle to the left, and that Mendez over-steered to the right to keep the vehicle under control, and that this type of over-steering occurs across the board in other tread separation cases. Curtis Flynn, a former El Paso police office, testified about accident reconstruction. Mendez testified to having used alcohol and cocaine two days preceding the accident, but he said he did not either on the day of the accident. Nonetheless, trace amounts of each were found in his system after the accident. A finding was made, too, that one of the plaintiffs, Melissa Snyder, was the biological daughter of one of the deceased passengers. The plaintiffs won an $11 million judgment, and Cooper now appeals. HOLDING:Affirmed. Cooper’s first argument is that the plaintiffs failed to obtain a jury finding on the “flaw” element of their manufacturing defect claim, and that the trial court’s refusal to incorporate the “flaw” element was harmful error. The court finds no authority to support the claim that plaintiffs must prove a “flaw” element separate and above obtaining a finding of a defect. Cooper next challenges the legal and factual sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s finding of manufacturing defect at the time the tire left Cooper’s possession. Cooper says the expert testimony of Grogan, Milner and Crate should not have been admitted, and that there was error in admitting the RAPRA report and testimony from. The court finds Grogran was qualified to testify as an expert. His qualifications included specialized knowledge and extensive experience in tire failure analysis and tire examination, and the trial court reasonably concluded that he possessed the requisite knowledge, experience and training to testify in this case. As for the scientific reliability of Grogran’s testimony, the court finds that Grogran provided thorough information concerning his methodology and it is clear that his expertise rested on his many years of experience in tire examination for Dunlop and as an independent tire failure analyst. His preliminary opinion was based on his observations and analysis of the tire itself and he determined that the belt separation was caused by poor adhesion between the rubber component layers. Upon further investigation, Grogan had his conclusion confirmed by the RAPRA report, which identified the presence of wax in tested areas of the tire. It was not error for Grogran to rely on Angell’s testimony, and the court points out that there was only partial reliance on Angell’s testimony to begin with. As for Milner, the court concludes that Milner was qualified to give expert testimony, even though he did not have formal education in tire design or manufacture, or that he did not have real-world experience as a tire builder. The court nonetheless finds that it is “clear” that Milner’s education, training and experience in metallurgy and materials qualified him to render opinions in tire failure analysis, a subject within his area of specialized knowledge. As for the reliability of his testimony, the court finds that Milner provided great detail concerning his methodology and procedure in tire examination. He also applied his experiential knowledge in failure analysis in determining the cause of the tread separation and in eliminating other potential causes. Turning to Crate, the court rules that the trial court reasonably concluded that he was qualified to render the opinions he made in this case. He demonstrated that he had specialized knowledge in chemical analysis, identification of polymer materials, and was familiar with technologies used in related testing. He explained his methodology in analyzing data from the RAPRA report and the research materials that informed his opinions in this case. Cooper’s next argument relates to the evidence it wanted to offer of sole causation. Cooper argues that it should have been able to enter the evidence that the minivan had a greater propensity to roll over when the passengers shifted to one side, and it would not have done so if all the passengers had been belted. The court finds that it was not error to exclude this evidence, or to refuse a jury instruction on it because it would not have been allowed by rule or by statute at the time (sole proximate cause applies to the conduct of others not a party to the suit, and here, three of the six occupants not wearing seat belts are parties to this suit). Furthermore, Transportation Code 545.413(g) does not allow evidence of seat belt use to be admitted in this type of trial. Cooper then argues that the trial court erred in admitted expert testimony on causation from Arndt and Flynn. Cooper says Arndt’s opinions lacked a reliable scientific or factual basis because his opinion was contrary to witness testimony. The court finds that Arndt was aware of witness testimony and expressly disagreed with their recollection of events. Arndt instead formed his opinions based on test data and physical evidence of the scene and on the vehicle. The trial court did not err in admitting his testimony. Noting that the trial court held a Daubert hearing on Flynn’s qualifications and reliability, the court holds that it is clear that he had at least the minimum requisite qualifications to render his opinion on deceleration. His testimony on the matter was based on testing, which he believed was applicable despite the different cause of the deceleration in this particular case. Cooper challenges the plaintiffs’ solicitation from Cooper witnesses about other lawsuits filed against Cooper. The court says the testimony was properly admitted for purposes of impeachment or to show bias. The court then goes through several statements made by the plaintiffs’ lawyer that Cooper says constituted improper jury argument. “Cooper Tire did not object to these statements, which appropriately can be regarded as challenges to the credibility of defense witnesses, which were supported by the evidence. None of these witnesses were condemned as liars, as manufacturers of evidence, or as persons testifying purely out of self-interest without regard for the truth, as Cooper Tire claims.” Some statements Cooper says accused it and its experts of perjury, manufacturing evidence and disregarding the truth in exchange for financial gain. The court says that a curative instruction could have been issued, but points out that Cooper did not object to these statements at trial. Statements such as calling Cooper’s experts “assassins of truth” are “troubling” to the court, but the court concludes that they were not so inflammatory, harmful or prejudicial that an instruction to disregard would not have eliminated the probability of an improper verdict. The court then reviews several statements made by the plaintiffs’ lawyer that Cooper says appealed to the jury’s ethnicity and local prejudice. The plaintiffs’ lawyer made a comment on the “authentic” Mexican breakfast the jurors had. Cooper did not object, and the court finds the plaintiffs’ attorney was not pandering to ethnic unity. Comments about people in El Paso “hav[ing] value, too” may not have been appropriate, but they were “invited and provoked” by Cooper’s attorney when he said he couldn’t believe that the local lawyers would “sit there and applaud a man who gets in a vehicle and drives on a public highway under the influence of cocaine.” “The complained-of jury arguments were clearly invited and provoked by Cooper Tire’s counsel’s depiction of hard working families contrasted to its attack on the Plaintiffs’ values. Further, we find that the statements did not ask the jury to decide the case based upon local prejudice or ethnic unity.” Cooper complains of juror misconduct, too, in the form of a juror who looked up the dictionary definition of negligence and then shared it with the rest of the jury, who then used it to guide their deliberations. Contrary to Cooper’s assertions, the court finds Cooper is really complaining of conduct within the course of deliberations, which is outside the purview of the statute governing challenges to juror conduct. The court then says that it does not find that the jury’s failure to find Mendez negligent was clearly against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. Much of the challenged evidence turned on witness credibility and the resolution of conflicting evidence, matters within the jury’s province. The court concludes that the jury’s finding is supported by some probative evidence and is not against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. Finally, the court agrees that there was support for the finding that Melissa Snyder was the biological daughter of one of the deceased passengers, and so could maintain a wrongful death suit. OPINION:Chew, J.; Larsen, McClure and Chew, JJ.

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