September 19, 2001 - Ford Settles Another Explorer Lawsuit Before Trial Begins

Just after jurors were selected for a trial, Ford Motor Co. said yesterday it reached a settlement in a lawsuit involving a rollover accident of a Ford Explorer with Firestone tires. Specifics of the agreement were not released.

Margarita Gonzalez, 59, died last year when the Explorer she was in crashed near Kerrville after a tread separated on a rear tire. Her son Alfredo, who was driving the vehicle at high speed, was left brain-damaged. Her husband, five children, and mother were seeking unspecified damages for wrongful death, malice, and gross negligence. The family had already settled with Bridgestone/Firestone. "Our condolences go out to the Gonzalez family. We respect the right of privacy to the family and do not discuss details of any settlement," said Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes. Family spokesman Skip Rutherford said that as a result of the settlement, "the healing for the Gonzalez family can begin."

A 12-member jury was selected Sept. 11, and the trial had been scheduled to begin today. Ford and Bridgestone/Fire stone have settled hundreds of claims over accidents involving Explorers with Firestone tires, and hundreds more are pending. The first trial in a rollover lawsuit made it to the fourth day of jury deliberations before it ended abruptly last month in a courtroom in McAllen. In a settlement, Bridgestone/Firestone agreed to pay $7.5 million to Marisa Rodriguez, who was left paralyzed and brain-damaged in a crash. Ford had already settled with the Rodriguez family before that trial. Another lawsuit involving a Firestone-Ford crash has been postponed until November.

Firestone and Ford have blamed each other for accidents that federal safety officials have linked to more than 200 deaths and 700 injuries. Bridgestone/Fire stone agreed in August 2000 to recall 6.5 million tires, and Ford has said it will replace an additional 13 million Firestones.

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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