Thomas Randall Sawyer, Jr. was 16 years old when he was killed in a car crash on March 31, 2018. Now, his death is at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit that has made its way to the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Sawyer was the passenger in a GMC Envoy that had a tire blowout, which led to a crash on State Highway 217. The driver of the SUV lost control after the tire blew, causing the vehicle to cross both lanes of traffic, strike a ditch and overturn.

Sawyer’s family filed a lawsuit against Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, the tire manufacturer, in 2020.

“The defective tire came apart while still within its expected life-use,” the lawsuit stated. “This was due to a manufacturing defect consisting of a lack   of permanent bond between the components of the tire which caused it to come apart and rapidly deflate, resulting in the injuries and death suffered by the Decedent.”

The lawsuit initially listed the SUV driver as a defendant and sued him for negligence after a police report stated the driver may have overreacted when the tire blew. However, a judge dismissed the driver from the lawsuit.

The Mobile Circuit Court dismissed the case due to jurisdiction, but the plaintiffs appealed.

According to the lawsuit, Cooper Tire has a “Tread Wisely” campaign to educate youth about the importance of checking tire tread and maintaining tires.

Sawyer, whose loved ones called Tommy, was a native of Mobile but lived in Jacksonville, Florida at the time of his death.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on June 5.

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