August 30, 2001 - Firestone Settles Lawsuit In Fatal Texas Rollover.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has settled, for an undisclosed amount, the next lawsuit scheduled for trial over a tire separation on a Ford Explorer that rolled over, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

"It has been settled. I don't have any details, and I really can't speak about it much, because the court has entered an order limiting conversation," said Christine Karbowiak, spokeswoman for the Nashville-based tiremaker. Sources said only that the settlement was for several million dollars in the case, which involved the death of Margarita Gonzalez and injury of her son Alfredo during a crash last year near Kerrville, Texas. Trial was set for Sept. 10 in Brownsville, Texas.

Paula Wyatt, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs themselves could not be reached for comment. Skip Rutherford, who was hired to handle media requests, would not confirm that a settlement had been made. He said the family would have a statement on Thursday.

The settlement could leave Ford Motor Co. as the lone defendant -- a reversal of the situation earlier this month in nearby McAllen, in which Bridgestone/Firestone went to trial and blamed Ford for an accident that left a woman paralyzed. Ford settled that case out of court.

As the jury was deliberating, the case ended abruptly Friday when Bridgestone/Firestone agreed to pay $7.5 million in addition to the $350,000 it had already paid to cover medical expenses for Marisa Rodriguez.

If the Brownsville case goes to trial, would Ford play the same blame game?

"It's too soon for me to comment on our possible defense if this does go to trial," said Ford spokesman Ken Zino, adding that the Detroit automaker is in talks with attorneys for the Gonzalez family.

"If we can reach an agreement to settle, we'd like to. We'd rather spend money compensating people hurt in the use of our product, through the use of a defective tire, than on litigation," he said.

In all tire blowout and rollover cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a serious automobile accident, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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