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Firestone, Ford Settle Suit Over SUV Accident

September 20, 2002|From Bloomberg News

Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and Ford Motor Co. settled a lawsuit with a woman who blamed a 1999 accident on the design and manufacturing flaws of her Explorer, which had Firestone tires, her lawyer said.

Cristina Hernandez's 1997 Explorer rolled over near Bakersfield, injuring her and killing a sorority sister. Hernandez's lawyer said in court Thursday that his client agreed to settle the case for an undisclosed amount.

The companies have reached settlements in hundreds of cases after U.S. safety officials linked Firestone tires on Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles to 271 highway deaths. Terms of those settlements haven't been disclosed.

The settlement "is going to teach Firestone and Ford that when they make a defective product, they have to take it off the market," said John Denove, Hernandez's lawyer.

Hernandez's case was one of the first to go to trial. None of the injury cases involving Explorers with Firestone tires has gone to a jury verdict.

Firestone agreed to settle the case to end potentially lengthy litigation, said spokesman Dan MacDonald. "There's been no admission of wrongdoing. We just don't think protracted litigation is in anyone's best interest."

Ford did not comment on the settlement. Its shares closed down 39 cents to $9.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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