The plaintiff was traveling northbound on I-94 when a wheel separated from his vehicle, bounced over the concrete median and crashed through the plaintiff’s windshield.
The plaintiff suffered two broken vertebrae, which were surgically fused, as well as permanent double vision and weakness on the right side of his body. The plaintiff alleged that the spare wheel and tire were original equipment and that the taper on the lug nuts did not match the taper on the wheel thus allowing the lug nuts to back off over time.
The defendant automobile manufacturer contended that the operator of the vehicle, who had changed the wheel and tire 33 miles before it came off, failed to tighten the lug nuts sufficiently to create optimum clamp load.
The defense further argued that the plaintiff could not establish with any reasonable certainty that the wheel and tire used in the roadside change was the same wheel equipped with the vehicle back when it was manufactured.
At the conclusion of plaintiff’s case-in-chief, a directed verdict was entered in favor of the defense. The court ruled that the plaintiff failed to establish sufficient evidence that the wheel and tire used during the roadside change were the same replacement wheel and tire equipped with the vehicle when it was manufactured.