Sophie Rollet, a former childcare worker from France, dedicated ten years of her life to holding US auto equipment group Goodyear accountable for the death of her husband, Jean-Paul, in a collision linked to the company’s tires. Alone in her pursuit for justice, Rollet meticulously tracked clues, data, and articles related to road accidents involving a specific model of Goodyear tires. Her tireless efforts finally paid off as authorities recently raided Goodyear sites in Europe, including its Brussels headquarters, as part of an investigation into involuntary manslaughter.

Jean-Paul tragically lost his life on July 25, 2014, on highway A36 in the eastern Doubs department at the age of 53. While on his way home after completing a delivery, his tanker truck was struck by a semi-trailer that lost control due to a burst front left tire. Rollet’s investigation revealed that the tire model, Goodyear Marathon LHS II, had been linked to numerous accidents in France and Europe, shedding light on a concerning pattern that needed to be addressed.

Legal Battle and Expert Findings

Initially faced with the closure of her husband’s case, Rollet filed a complaint in 2016 for involuntary manslaughter and submitted her findings to prosecutors in Besancon. An expert analysis of the tire revealed a manufacturing defect as the root cause of the fatal blowout, validating Rollet’s diligent research. Besancon prosecutor Etienne Manteaux likened Rollet to Erin Brockovich, highlighting her determination as instrumental in pushing the investigations forward.

Following media coverage and a documentary on Rollet’s legal crusade, prosecutors in Besancon added two other cases to their investigation, both involving fatal accidents caused by similar tire defects. A whistleblower came forward with internal documents suggesting that Goodyear was aware of these defects and attempted to conceal them. As a result, authorities conducted searches at Goodyear’s European office in Brussels, a site in France, and the manufacturing factory in Luxembourg. Goodyear stated that they were cooperating fully with the authorities.

A Bittersweet Victory

Despite feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief in passing the baton to the authorities, Rollet expressed frustration at the imperfections of justice. She acknowledged that not all victims could be identified, even a decade later. Recognizing the toll that the case had taken on her, Rollet decided to distance herself from it and pursue a career as an accountant. However, she continues to advocate for road safety by sharing her story with schools and businesses.

Sophie Rollet’s unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of justice against Goodyear serve as a powerful reminder of the impact that individuals can have in holding corporations accountable for their actions. Her story is a testament to the importance of perseverance, courage, and advocacy in the face of adversity.

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