French Prosecutors Raid Goodyear Sites in Probe of Fatal Truck Tyre Crashes

French prosecutors have launched a major investigation into Goodyear's European operations, raiding sites in France, Luxembourg, and Belgium, amid allegations that the company knew about defects in its Marathon LHS II and Marathon LHS II+ truck tires, which have been linked to fatal crashes and multiple deaths, and failed to initiate a proper recall campaign. This description focuses on the primary topic of the investigation, the main entity of Goodyear, the context of European operations, and the significant actions and consequences related to the alleged defects and fatal crashes. The description provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as images of Goodyear's European sites, truck tires, and potentially, crash scenes or investigative activities.

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Nitish Verma
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French Prosecutors Raid Goodyear Sites in Probe of Fatal Truck Tyre Crashes

French Prosecutors Raid Goodyear Sites in Probe of Fatal Truck Tyre Crashes

French prosecutors have launched a major investigation into Goodyear's European operations, conducting searches at sites in France, Luxembourg, and Belgium as part of an involuntary homicides probe into fatal crashes caused by burst truck tyres. The simultaneous raids, carried out on Tuesday, aim to determine whether the American tyre giant knew about alleged defects in its Marathon LHS II and Marathon LHS II+ tyres and how many incidents it was made aware of.

Why this matters: This investigation has far-reaching implications for the automotive industry, as it raises questions about corporate accountability and the prioritization of profits over safety. The outcome of this probe could lead to changes in regulatory policies and industry standards, potentially saving lives and preventing future accidents.

The investigation, led by examining magistrate Marc Monnier in Besançon, eastern France, involves dozens of investigators from three countries and was planned over several months in secrecy to maintain the element of surprise. "The aim of these searches is to find out how much Goodyear knew about how dangerous the Marathon LHS II and Marathon LHS II+ tyres were and how many incidents it was made aware of," said Etienne Manteaux, prosecutor in Besançon.

The probe was sparked by a criminal complaint filed in 2016 by Sophie Rollet, whose husband Jean-Paul died in a truck accident on France's A36 motorway in July 2014. The accident was caused by a burst tyre, and independent experts found that the tyre failed due to manufacturing defects. The case is one of three under investigation by Besançon magistrates, involving trucks equipped with the Goodyear tyres in question, which have been linked to a total of four deaths.

Prosecutor Manteaux alleges that Goodyear "has never acknowledged a safety issue" even when pushed by truck builders Scania and Man. Instead of initiating a recall campaign, the company launched an exchange program dubbed "Tango" in 2014, which Manteaux describes as a "sales exchange" that many companies did not respond to because they were not informed of a safety problem. "If a recall programme had been put in place, one might think these people (who died after March 2014) might still be alive," Manteaux stated.

A whistleblower has provided prosecutors with evidence of compensation claims opened after similar incidents in many European countries. Four more crash cases dating back to 2011-2014 have been added to the probe, although they are past the statute of limitations. A similar exchange scheme was set up in Spain as early as 2013.

Goodyear, the world's third-largest tyre-maker and the seventh-largest employer in Luxembourg with around 3,500 staff, has confirmed that it is subject to searches and is "cooperating fully" with the authorities. The company claims that it "proactively initiated a programme to replace a specific category of truck tyres sold at the time in response to market feedback" ten years ago, and that the programme was "carried out rigorously and transparently in coordination with the relevant authorities" to replace as many tyres as possible.

The raids on Goodyear's sites, described by French newspaper Le Monde as "both spectacular and unprecedented," come nearly a decade after the fatal motorway crash involving a Goodyear Marathon LHS II truck tyre. As the investigation unfolds, it will shed light on the extent of Goodyear's knowledge about the alleged defects and the actions taken by the company in response to the incidents.

Key Takeaways

  • French prosecutors launch investigation into Goodyear's European operations over fatal truck tyre crashes.
  • Searches conducted at sites in France, Luxembourg, and Belgium as part of involuntary homicides probe.
  • Probe focuses on alleged defects in Goodyear's Marathon LHS II and Marathon LHS II+ tyres.
  • Investigation sparked by 2016 criminal complaint filed by widow of truck accident victim.
  • Goodyear claims to have "cooperated fully" with authorities and initiated tyre replacement programme.