Contractors should be the judge in Heatway/Goodyear dispute

A federal judge in Ohio has awarded Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. the legal equivalent of a free kick in soccer in its court battle with Heatway. The judge ruled that Goodyear could make one statement, in whatever form or fashion it chooses, in response to the statement by Dan Chiles published in CONTRACTOR magazine in our March issue. The free-kick part is that the court order restrains Heatway from

A federal judge in Ohio has awarded Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. the legal equivalent of a free kick in soccer in its court battle with Heatway.

The judge ruled that Goodyear could “make one statement, in whatever form or fashion it chooses, in response to the statement by Dan Chiles published in CONTRACTOR magazine” in our March issue. The free-kick part is that the court order restrains Heatway from responding publicly to Goodyear’s statement.

Goodyear contends in its statement that the radiant tubing it produced for Heatway is not defective. When systems with Entran II begin to leak, Goodyear says, “those problems invariably are the result of improper system design, installation, operation or maintenance.” Further, Goodyear accuses Heatway of failing “to get sufficient information on system installation, operation or maintenance to installers and system users.”

Heatway’s Dan Chiles had quite a different view of the problems when he spoke with us in March. He told us that Goodyear offered Heatway money to blame the system failures on contractors and homeowners instead of the hose itself. Chiles said that Heatway flatly refused to shift the blame.

Goodyear felt wronged by Chiles’ comments, and the judge sided with Goodyear. Because CONTRACTOR was mentioned by name in the judge’s order, Goodyear sent us a copy of its statement and asked that we print it. The statement appears in full in our Letters section (pg. 23) this month.

The court did not order CONTRACTOR to print Goodyear’s statement. We decided to publish it because we’re in the information business and we think it’s important that you know Goodyear’s point of view on this matter.

We do regret, however, the judge’s decision to silence Heatway. It’s a shame that we have to hear only one side’s position at a time instead of a lively and enlightening debate. The more information you have at hand, the better equipped you are to figure out what is going on.

If you’re a radiant heating contractor, you’ve probably come to your own conclusions on who’s to blame for the Entran II system failures. Maybe it’s Goodyear. Maybe it’s Heatway. Maybe both share some of the responsibility.

We’re certain the judge has what he believes are legitimate reasons for limiting discussion now that a verdict has been reached. Still, the order to prevent Heatway to respond to Goodyear’s statement strikes us to be, like a free kick in soccer, just a little un-American.