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Texas Judge Orders Tire Execs to Give Depositions

August 28, 2000|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A Texas judge has ordered the CEO of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and three other executives to appear in the case of a couple who died when the tread allegedly came off of their Firestone tires, said a lawyer involved in the case.

Meanwhile, congressional staff are scheduled to meet today with Firestone executives in Nashville. A spokesman for the House Commerce Committee said they will be asking when the company knew there was a problem with the Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II tires.

A lawyer for relatives of Patricio and Nidia Leal, who died in the accident May 1999, said Sunday he wants Chief Executive Masatoshi Ono to explain in a deposition when the Tokyo-based company knew there were problems with the Firestone tires that are being recalled.

Earlier this month, Ono was quoted as saying the company knew there were problems with Wilderness tires when used under "severe conditions" and moved to improve the model before the recall.

"The question that jumps up is 'What did you know and when did you know it?' " said attorney Bob Patterson, who requested the deposition. "And what changes were they making to try and stop the problem?"

Patterson said Texas State District Judge John Pope issued the order Friday for Ono and Firestone executives Gary Crigger, Christine Karbowiak and Robert Wyant to be deposed Sept. 15 in Nashville.

Bridgestone/Firestone recalled about 6.5 million P235/75R15 size Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires, often found on Ford Explorers, on Aug. 9.

The Leals were killed near Brownsville, Texas, while traveling in a Ford Explorer equipped with now-recalled Firestone ATX tires, Patterson said. Their trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 16.

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