Court shoots down tiremakers, TIA in TPMS lawsuit

June 18, 2007

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that four tire manufacturers, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) and consumer watchdog group Public Citizen Inc. lack standing to challenge the federal government's final tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) rule.

Two years ago, the four manufacturers (Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Pirelli Tire LLC) -- along with TIA and Public Citizen -- brought a lawsuit against the United States Department of Transportation that challenged the TPMS rule's requirement that tire pressure monitoring systems only need to detect when one or more of a vehicle's tires are 25% or more below the recommended inflation pressure.

"The key initial question for us is the petitioners' standing under Article III of the Constitution," said the court in an official statement.

"The tire industry petitioners' theory of how (the rule) might cause them harm is far too attenuated and we conclude that they lack standing."

To demonstrate standing under Article III, "a party must show injury in fact that was caused by the conduct of the defendants.... the party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing these elements."

However, the court said that "we must seek supplemental submissions to determine whether Public Citizen has standing."

The group has "asserted that (the rule) would affect (its) 130,000 members who drive or ride in cars by creating a 'higher risk of injury' than if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adopted" alternative regulations.