Judge Denies Gag Order in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Jacksonville attorney says it was a defective tire that caused a crash that killed four teenagers on the last day of school in June of last year. He has filed a lawsuit against Cooper Tires. A News4Jax article reports that on Tuesday, June 22, a judge in the case denied a gag order requested by the tire company that would have prevented any information on the case from reaching the media. Even though the gag order was denied, the parties were reminded that they must follow the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct which prevents them from seeking out an audience from the media.

Attorney Eric Block has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Shannon Broome, who was injured on the Interstate 295 crash that killed four teens. Cooper Tires is named for allegedly selling a defective tire which experienced a tread separation before the Florida auto crash. Also named is Ford, the maker of the 1997 Explorer that rolled, Big Chief Tire that installed two tires on the SUV, (neither one which blew). Block says Big Chief Tire should have been alert enough to warn the car’s owner about the faulty tire when it was in their shop just two weeks before the crash. Also named is Imagine Tour, based in Orlando, that sold the SUV.

The driver of the Ford Explorer was Brandon Hodges, 15, who did not have a driver’s license at the time of the crash. He was the only one wearing a seat belt and not surprisingly, the only person not injured. He did manage to steer the Explorer with the blown tire to an emergency lane where it overturned. He is facing manslaughter charges and a trial.

More lawsuits on behalf of all eight in the vehicle are expected to be filed says Block, including on behalf of the four teens who died – Kimber Krebs, 15, Erin Hurst, John Kiely, and Dennis Stout, all 17, who died in the crash.

None of the vehicle’s occupants was wearing their seat belts.