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Ford, Tire Firm OK Deal in Deadly Crash

January 09, 2003|From Associated Press

TUSKEGEE, Ala. — Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone-Firestone have settled a lawsuit brought after a tire blowout and crash killed a civil-rights leader and injured two others, the judge in the case said Wednesday.

Circuit Judge Howard Bryan said terms of the deal were confidential.

Killed in the 2000 crash of the Ford Explorer was Earl Shinhoster, a veteran official for the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. The wreck also injured Samimah Aziz, a goddaughter of the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and the driver, Ademah Hackshaw.

The Explorer was in a motorcade with the first lady of Liberia and a state patrol escort.

Shinhoster's wife, Ruby, and the two survivors sued Ford and Bridgestone-Firestone, claiming the firms were responsible for the crash.

Ruby Shinhoster said she was ready to go through a trial but felt the case had gone on long enough. The settlement was reached just before the trial was to begin.

"I'm relieved after what I've been going through the last two years, but they still haven't admitted they did anything wrong," she said.

Dan MacDonald, a spokesman for Bridgestone-Firestone, said the company was pleased to resolve the case without going to trial.

"Although the tire line involved in this case has an excellent safety record, protracted litigation is in no one's best interest," he said, adding that the company has settled about 700 such cases around the country. Several cases have gone to trial, but all have settled before a jury could decide a verdict.

A Ford spokeswoman said that the company believes the Explorer is safe and that statistics back up the claim.

Ford and Bridgestone-Firestone had said the accident was partly caused by the fact that the tire was 7 years old and that the motorcade was traveling at least 80 mph in a 70 mph zone.

Aziz said the deal means she won't have to relive the accident from the stand.

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