LOS ANGELES — A Chinese tire manufacturer and its affiliates filed a $1-billion lawsuit Tuesday against Goodyear, claiming the company stole a tire factory out from under them.
The plaintiffs are CTHL, a Chinese tire manufacturer, and its affiliates, Orion Tire Corp. of San Clemente and China Strategic Holdings Limited of Hong Kong.
"The People's Republic of China is the world's largest untapped market for radial tires," said Peter McNulty, the plaintiffs' Los Angeles lawyer. "With a population of 1.3 billion, a mere 6.1 million automobiles and a developing road and highway infrastructure, the profit potential is obviously very attractive."
The plaintiffs claim Goodyear unfairly won controlling interest in a factory in Dalian, an industrial city in northeastern China. The suit alleges that Orion representative Nicholas Clarke arranged a similar deal for CTHL, and told Goodyear officials about it after swearing them to secrecy.
But in April, 1994, the plaintiffs were notified that Goodyear had signed a joint-venture contract with the factory and would acquire a 75% interest in it, the suit said.
Goodyear officials in Akron, Ohio, did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
The lawsuit is expected to go to trial in a year.