Novak v. Continental Tire North AmericaAnnotate this Case
In 2005, 81-year-old Novak was injured when the van in which he was a passenger suffered a tire blowout and collided with a power pole. Novak sued for strict product liability and negligence for failure to warn that tires degrade with age and should be replaced even if the tire shows good tread depth. Novak was disabled as a result of the accident and had to use a motorized scooter. Six years after the blowout, Novak was injured when a car collided with his scooter in a crosswalk. Novak died days later. A defense judgment in the tire blowout case was reversed for evidentiary and instructional errors. The action was not retried. Novak’s daughter filed a wrongful death action against Continental Tire and an auto mechanic, based on the 2005 tire blowout and extending that fault to her father’s death. The court of appeal affirmed a defense judgment. Novak’s scooter being struck by a motorist who failed to yield was not a foreseeable consequence of defendants’ failure to warn that tires on another vehicle, driven years earlier by another motorist, were prone to blowouts. The connection is too attenuated to show the later accident to be within the scope of the risk created by defendants’ conduct. The driver in the crosswalk accident was the superseding cause of Novak’s death.