Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury awards Pasco family $5.6 million in Goodyear tire crash

NEW PORT RICHEY — John Schalmo was driving with his family to his son's graduation from boot camp in August 2004 when he felt a vibration, then a tire blow underneath his RV. The motor home slid down an embankment, across an interstate on-ramp and into some trees.

Schalmo suffered multiple broken bones. His mother-in-law's face was shattered. His father-in-law lost both his legs.

The family sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., alleging its G159 tire was defective — prone to overheat and separate at high rates of speed — and that Goodyear knew it.

Their case, filed in 2006, went to trial this month in New Port Richey. After two weeks of testimony, a jury on Friday returned a $5.6 million award for Schalmo and his family.

"We're trying to stop something like this crazy mess that we went through from happening to somebody else," Schalmo, 57, said Monday.

Goodyear spokesman Rob Whitehouse said the company plans to appeal the verdict.

"This was an unfortunate accident and our thoughts and prayers are with those injured," Whitehouse said in a statement. "However, Mr. Schalmo ignored a number of safety issues with his vehicle that led to the accident, including: failing to hook-up the supplemental brakes on the vehicle he was towing, ignoring a vibration in his steering wheel for more than five minutes and getting out of the driver's seat while the vehicle was traveling at highway speeds.

"Also, Goodyear tire experts determined the vehicle's front tire had been punctured in two locations."

The crash occurred on Interstate 10, near Chipley, in the Panhandle. Schalmo, his wife, Kelly, daughter Chelsea Decker and Kelly's parents, Bill and Ruth McClintock, were bound for Houston for son Jim Decker's graduation in the Air Force.

Instead, they spent weeks in a hospital in Dothan, Ala.

Hugh Smith, one of Schalmo's attorneys, said he showed jurors internal Goodyear documents, including speed- and heat-testing results that demonstrated that the tire was improperly approved by Goodyear for continuous 75-mph highway use on Class A motor homes.

Smith said Goodyear is fighting to keep those documents confidential, and Circuit Judge Stanley Mills gave the company 45 days to make its case for sealing them.

John and Kelly, 49, are back home in New Port Richey, where they own a site contracting business. Ruth McClintock lives with them. Her husband, who lived for a time with two prosthetic legs, died two years ago at age 81.

"His heart just finally gave up," Schalmo said.

Smith said this case was the first involving this style of Goodyear tire to reach a verdict. Others have been filed but they settled out of court, Smith said.

Schalmo wanted a trial.

"It was simply to make Goodyear admit that they've got a tire out there that's a problem," he said.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

Jury awards Pasco family $5.6 million in Goodyear tire crash 06/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 5:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New town homes sprouting in Oldsmar

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    OLDSMAR — City officials have been chipping away for several years on a downtown development plan, bringing new life to a 7-acre site on State Street. One day in the not-far-off future, they want to lively streets and walkways used by residents and …

  2. Study: Tampa Bay a top market for homebuyers on the move

    Real Estate

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, ATTOM Data Solutions says.

    The Tampa Bay area is among the top markets for homebuyers who are likely to move in the next few months, a survey found.
[Associated Press file photo]
  3. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  4. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  5. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.