HANKOOK TIRE CO., LTD., AND HANKOOK TIRE AMERICA CORP. APPELLANTS
ELMER PHILPOT APPELLEE
FROM THE CONWAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 15CV-12-114]
HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE.
Hardin, Jesson & Terry, PLC, by: Kirkman T. Dougherty and
Kynda Almefty; and Rose Law Firm, by: Patrick J. Goss, for
Law Firm, P.A., by: R. Margaret Dobson; Kelly Law Firm, P.A.,
by: Jerry Kelly; Kaster-Lynch, P.A., by: Bruce Kaster; and
Gordon, Caruth & Virden, P.L.C., by: Ben Caruth, for
in Conway County, Arkansas, found the appellants, Hankook
Tire Company, Limited, and Hankook Tire America Corporation
(collectively referred to at times as Hankook) strictly
liable for injuries that the appellee, Elmer Philpot,
suffered after the failure of a Hankook tire caused him to
lose control of the dump truck that he was driving on State
Highway 9 in Conway County on July 6, 2010. Hankook raises
six arguments for reversal. We dismiss without prejudice for
lack of a final judgment.
the second attempted appeal in this case. We previously
dismissed without prejudice Hankook's appeal from the
circuit court's order imposing attorney's fees as a
discovery sanction in Hankook Tire Co., Ltd. v.
Philpot, 2016 Ark.App. 386, 499 S.W.3d 250. There, we
held that the order awarding attorney's fees was not a
final appealable order because it did not adequately certify
that it was a final judgment under Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b).
Id., at 7-8, 499 S.W.3d at 253-54. We dismiss this
appeal because the circuit court's judgment is not final
as to one of the defendants in the case.
Hankook Tire Company, Limited, manufactures tires in South
Korea and Europe, and appellant Hankook Tire America
Corporation distributes the tires in the United States.
Appellee Elmer Philpot was driving a dump truck that had a
Hankook tire installed on the right front wheel. The tire
failed as Philpot was driving on State Highway 9 on July 6,
2010, causing him to lose control of the truck and crash into
a drainage ditch on the side of the highway. Philpot suffered
severe injuries when the force of the impact ejected him
through the truck's windshield.
case was initially filed in June 2012 in Conway County.
Philpot later filed an amended complaint on March 14, 2014.
Philpot alleged that Hankook manufactured the inherently
defective steel-belted tire, "Hankook 385/65R 22.5 Super
Single radial medium truck tire," and distributed it for
sale in Arkansas. The tire was installed on the right front
wheel of a 1985 Ford 9000 dump truck, which was loaded with
gravel and which Philpot was driving when the tire tread belt
failed. Philpot alleged that Hankook was negligent in its
design, testing, construction, and manufacture of the tire
and in its failure to inspect the tire or warn of the defects
that it knew or should have known to exist. Philpot further
contended that the tire was unfit and unsafe for its intended
use and purpose and that Hankook breached an implied
warranty. Philpot also sued Kenneth Hedrick, his employer,
and Tommy New, the owner of the truck, alleging that they
were negligent for failing to properly inspect and maintain
the tire for his use. All the defendants alleged that
Philpot's own negligence contributed to his injuries, and
all sought, if necessary, apportionment of liability and
damages among the defendants. Mr. Hedrick, in particular,
filed a cross-claim seeking a judgment against Hankook
"for contribution as per the uniform contribution among
tortfeasor's act against [Hankook] and also for indemnity
case proceeded to a six-day trial that concluded on September
8, 2016. Philpot introduced evidence to support his theory
that the tire's failure was caused by manufacturing
defects. At the close of Philpot's case, the circuit
court granted a directed verdict in favor of one of the
defendants, Kenneth Hedrick, finding that Philpot had failed
to introduce sufficient evidence to support his theory that
Mr. Hedrick negligently failed to properly maintain and
inspect the dump truck.
the defense case, Hankook introduced evidence to support its
theory that the tire's failure was caused by a
combination of improper maintenance and damage from an impact
with an object on the road. At the close of all the evidence,
Hankook and Mr. Hedrick mutually agreed to dismiss their
cross-claims against each other.
jury thereafter returned a verdict finding that Hankook and
Hankook America were strictly liable for Philpot's
injuries, apportioning 90 percent of the fault to Hankook and
10 percent of the fault to Hankook America. The jury rejected
Philpot's negligence claims against both Hankook
companies, as well as the owner of the truck, Tommy New.
Consequently, the circuit court entered a judgment awarding
Philpot $1, 080, 000 in damages against Hankook and $120, 000
in damages against Hankook America. The judgment further
provided that "the Complaint and Crossclaims against the
Separate Defendant, Tommy New, are hereby denied."
However, neither the judgment nor any other written order
addresses Philpot's negligence claim against Mr. Hedrick
or Mr. Hedrick's cross-claim against Hankook.
question whether an order is final and appealable is
jurisdictional, and this court is obligated to consider the
issue on its own even if the parties do not raise it.
Price v. Carver, 2017 Ark.App. 75, at 2, 513 S.W.3d
877, 879. The requirement that an order must be final and
appealable is observed to avoid piecemeal litigation.
Id. An order is final if it dismisses the parties,
discharges them from the action, or concludes their rights to
the subject matter in controversy. Id. at 3, 513
S.W.3d at 879. An order is not final, therefore,
when it adjudicates fewer than all the claims or rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties. Id.
of a final judgment for fewer than all claims is allowed,
however, under the following circumstances:
(1) When more than one claim for relief is presented in an
action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or
third party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the
court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or
more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an
express determination, supported by specific factual