Background Information The American Automobile Association—commonly called AAA—is one of the foremost advocates for drivers, providing a list of services and generally supporting automotive transportation in the United States. It is a federation of many different motor clubs around the United States and Canada. One of the unique things about AAA is the way in which the organization attracts membership. With more than 50 million members in North America, it represents the interests of a broad range of people who take to the road. The organization was founded in 1902, primarily to push for more navigable roads for drivers around Chicago. Then, there were not nearly enough good roads for people who wanted to drive on them with their newly fashioned cars. Since then, the organization’s goals and objectives have changed over time.
Today, they provide road maps and are one of the largest providers of roadside assistance for drivers. Drivers pay a fee each month, and in return, they have the ability to call AAA to send out a helper if those drivers happen to run into trouble. More recently, the organization has been involved in a number of different lobbying efforts on behalf of drivers around the country. Specifically, AAA has advocated for driver safety measures, including seatbelt measures, speed limit initiatives, and the like. AAA involves itself heavily in discussions about the future of driving. The organization has also played a critical role in the intersection between driving and the environment. The environment specifically depends upon good policy in relation to driving and automobiles. AAA is interested in making sure that drivers and their vehicles are made in such a way that they keep the environment as safe as possible. These legislative efforts have helped to make AAA one of the most influential special interest groups in the world, especially given the huge percentage of people the organization actually represents.
AAA argues that the tire manufacturer should be held responsible for making a product that is, on its face, dangerous. The tire company has been the subject of many different lawsuits. The fact that the company has been sued so often for gross negligence is suggestive of the fact that the company is causing significant numbers of injuries to people who would otherwise be safe. Not only does the manufacturing process of this company put drivers in danger, but it puts into danger people who work on vehicles for consumers.
It should be the responsibility of companies like Bradford to provide tires that are as safe as possible. If there is a reasonably available alternative that would be safer than what the company actually put out, then the company should be required to do just that. Rather than allowing the company to design a tire that is the 2nd or 3rd safest on the market, the public would be much better served by ensuring that the company is held to the highest standards. As it stands, the company’s design was of such a grossly negligent nature that it should be required to pay not only the compensatory damages of the man injured, but also punitive damages that would make the company pay for its misgivings.
In terms of a manufacturing, a company should be found negligent when it behaves in such a way that it ignores the clear and foreseeable dangers that might arise from using its products. In this case, Bradford assumes that just because it put forward a warning label, it should be discharged of its duty to reduce the dangers of its products. At issue in this case is not whether the injured plaintiff could have avoided injury if he would have followed the rules. In fact, it is abundantly clear that if the man had followed the applicable rules as laid out in the warning labels, then he would have avoided injury. After all, the warning labels did caution against doing precisely what the man did when he was changing the tire onto the smaller rim. However, the company must anticipate situations in which a person might be changing a tire without knowing precisely how large a rim happens to be. This would seem like a situation that might happen quite often. The case of the plaintiff here seems like something that would happen routinely. Specifically, it must be anticipated that given the relatively small difference in size between a 16-inch rim and a 16.5-inch rim, it might be possible that a person could make a mistake on this. Likewise, it is difficult to provide accurate size labels on rims, since they are made of steel. The people putting tires on these rims are often putting new tires, with labels, on old rims, which are not labeled clearly for size. Because of these almost obvious dangers, it becomes incumbent upon the tire maker to ensure that the tire maker has taken every reasonable measure to ensure that the safest possible design is put into place.
AAA supports all legislation and court decisions that would hold responsible those companies that put drivers into harm. By requiring tire makers to produce products that are as sound as they can possibly be, the court would be doing justice not only for the plaintiff in this case, but also for all drivers (Sommers). One of the points of punitive damages is to send a message to companies about their conduct (Horshovitz). The court here has the opportunity to send just that sort of message if it can make the right ruling.
- Hershovitz, Scott. “Tort as a Substitute for Revenge.” Philosophical Foundations of the Law of Torts, John Oberdiek (ed.),(OUP, 2014 Forthcoming) (2013).
- Sommers, Roseanna. “The Psychology of Punishment and the Puzzle of Why Tortfeasor Death Defeats Liability for Punitive Damages.” Yale LJ124 (2015): 1295-3094.