November 8, 2001 - Firestone Forestalls Defective Tire Suits

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov 08, 2001 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has reached a $41.5 million settlement to head off a slew of state lawsuits over defective tires.

The agreement with U.S. state attorneys general is expected to be announced later Thursday in Nashville, The Washington Post reported. A news conference has been scheduled for 12 p.m. EST.

The Nashville-based tiremaker has agreed to pay out $41.5 million -- $500,000 to each state plus Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. In addition $5 million will be spent on consumer education and $10 million will go for attorneys fees.

Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 14.4 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires in August 2000. Some 6.5 million were believed still on the road at the time. An additional 3.5 million Wilderness ATs were recalled last month, ending a federal investigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration linked the tires to 271 deaths and thousands of injuries, most involving rollover accidents and Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicles. Ford last May announced plans to replace another 13.5 million Wilderness AT tires that were original equipment on certain Ford vehicles.

Lawsuits filed by individuals involved in the accidents or their survivors still are pending in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, plus various local jurisdictions.

Attorneys general have been trying to determine whether Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford were aware of the problem long before the recall was announced.

Bridgestone/Firestone has blamed the accidents on a design flaw in the Ford Explorer but Ford has maintained its vehicle is not at fault. The situation led to a falling-out between the two companies, severing a century-old relationship.

Most of the defective tires were produced at Bridgestone/Firestone's Decatur, Ill., plant. Earlier this year, the company announced it would close the facility.

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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