Bridgestone Settles 2015 Lawsuit Filed by Truck Driver After Fatal Crash

A truck driver who filed a lawsuit against Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming settled with the company out of court earlier this month, right before trial.

Brian Kehler’s lawsuit, filed in August 2015, said a Bridgestone tire “was in a defective, dangerous condition at the time of its sale” and was “unreasonably dangerous” to Kehler, who was injured in a collision on Interstate 80 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in November 2014.

That crash killed Cheyenne resident James Ednie, his longtime partner, Tanya Gooden, and her adult special-needs son, Cameron Gooden.

Ednie was well-known in Cheyenne for being an active advocate for suicide prevention in Wyoming and the full-time caretaker for Gooden’s son.

He was driving the family’s Dodge Caravan when the FedEx tractor-trailer with pup trailer Kehler was driving struck them nearly head on.

FedEx ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Ednie and Tanya Gooden, who both were wearing seat belts, suffered fatal injuries on scene.

Cameron Gooden, who was seated in his wheelchair in the backseat area of the minivan at the time of the collision, was flown to a medical facility in Denver, where he died the next morning.

An investigation revealed that the westbound tractor-trailer’s left front tire failed, sending the vehicle careening through the median near the College Drive exit.

Kehler, who was from Utah at the time of the incident, was employed by CLR Transportation and contracted to drive a FedEx tractor with two trailers, according to his complaint.

“The defective condition caused or was a substantial contributing factor in the plaintiff’s injuries,” his lawsuit said, adding that “Bridgestone’s conduct in marketing, distribution and sale of the tire was negligent.”

Tanya Gooden’s adult daughter, Alodie Gooden, and Ednie’s sister, Gina Cubillos, filed wrongful death lawsuits against Bridgestone and FedEx Ground Package Systems Inc. in spring 2015.

Their suits were consolidated for potential trial and settled out of court last summer.

According to the lawsuits, the passenger side tire on that tractor failed two months before the fatal collision and was purchased at the same time as the faulty driver’s side tire — making it likely that both came from the same lot of tires.

“Bridgestone’s choice not to have a system that would result in the replacement of both steer tires in the circumstances leading to this occurrence … was reckless, willful and wanton and demonstrated indifference to (public safety),” Alodie Gooden’s lawsuit said.

An attorney with Cheyenne firm Lathrop & Rutledge P.C., who worked as part of Bridgestone’s legal team in all the cases, confirmed March 24 that Kehler’s case was dismissed pursuant to a confidential agreement reached between the parties, but could not comment further.

Kehler’s lawsuit was set to go to trial March 6, but court records indicate the trial was cancelled as of March 1.

His legal team filed a motion to dismiss the case on March 9, and U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson signed an order of dismissal the next day.

Johnson’s order dismisses the suit with prejudice, meaning it can’t be re-filed, and says each side is responsible for paying their own attorney’s fees, costs, expenses and expert witness fees.

Kehler’s lawsuit said he “has suffered emotional stress, shock, trauma and injury to his emotional well-being, all of which has caused, continues to cause and in the future will cause him mental pain and suffering and emotional distress.”

Kehler was seeking compensation in excess of $75,000 to cover medical expenses and loss of income, as well as the physical pain and suffering, disability and emotional distress he’s had to and will endure.

The Gooden and Cubillos lawsuits also were seeking compensation “substantially in excess of $75,000.”

The couple left behind their young daughter, who was not with them at the time of the collision.

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