+ Confidential Settlements with Ford Motor Company and Bridgestone /Firestone


October 2009



Gary C. Eto wins $200,000 for Ford Explorer Tire Failure

Peter Ludwig v. Sunrise Ford, Ford Motor Company, Bridgestone /Firestone

case number JCCP 4130, Los Angeles Superior Court date of settlement October 2009

Settlement: $200,000. Additional confidential settlements with ford and bridgestone firestone

for plaintiff Peter A. Ludwig

Gary C. Eto, Law Offices of Gary C. Eto
1455 Crenshaw Blvd., Suite 150
Torrance, CA 90501
(310)320-7700; Fax (310)320-7708

Johnny Y. Lee, Law Offices of Johnny Y. Lee
9327 Fairway View Place, Ste 310
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91730

for Defendant Sunrise Ford
Terrence L. Cranert, Pollard Mavredakis Cranert Crawford & Stevens
800 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 300
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626)793-4440; fax (626)793-1556

for Defendant Bridgestone Firestone
Arnold D. Larson, Mary P. Lightfoot, Darren Ballas, LARSON, GARRICK & LIGHTFOOT
633 West Fifth Street, Suite 1750
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213)404-4100; Fax (213) 404-4123

for defendant Ford Motor Company
Elizabeth V. McNulty, Saleem Erakat, SNELL & WILMER LLP
600 Anton Blvd, Suite 1400
Costa Mesa, CA 92626-7689
(714) 427-7000; fax (714)427-7799

Judge-Anthony J. Mohr, Dept 309, Los Angeles Superior Court, Central Civil West

Mediator-Steven J. Stone
JAMS-Los Angeles (213)253-9752

Case facts

On June 11, 2007, plaintiff Peter Ludwig was driving his 1996 Ford Explorer westbound on State Route 210 (Foothill Freeway) in the City of Claremont, County of Los Angeles State of California. At said place and time, the left rear Firestone ATX tire, size P235 75R15 105 SM-S, experienced a complete tread separation, causing the 1996 Ford Explorer to swerve out of control and roll over, causing catastrophic injuries to plaintiff.

The subject tire was an original equipment tire manufactured at Firestone’s Decatur plant in the 12th week of 1996; it was subject to the August 9, 2000 recall by Ford and Firestone of approximately 14.4 million Firestone ATX, ATXIItires [size P235/75R15] produced in America from 1991-2000, and Wilderness AT tires made in Decatur, Illinois between March 1996-Aug 2001 )because of tread separation problems – the majority of these tires were original equipment on Ford Explorers.

Peter Ludwig was not the original owner of the Ford Explorer. Between 2004- 2006, plaintiff Peter Ludwig had both routine service and substantial repairs done on his 1996 Ford Explorer at Sunrise Ford. At the time of these services rendered by Sunrise Ford, the Explorer was equipped with the subject Firestone ATX tire. In August 2005, the vehicle was left for repairs at Sunrise Ford for 11 days. Sunrise Ford never communicated to Peter Ludwig that his Explorer was equipped with a tire that was recalled, that the tire that was 10 years old, or that his tire was unsafe for reasons of the 2000, recall.


As to Sunrise Ford, plaintiffs contended Sunrise Ford should have told plaintiff that his tire was recalled; Sunrise Ford should have warned plaintiff that his tire was unsafe for the reasons of the 2000 National recall; Sunrsie Ford should have warned plaintiff about the dangers of tire aging, and that his tire was unsafe because it was 10 years old (plaintiff contended that tires more than 6 years old wrer unsafe); and that Sunrise Ford should have recommended or offered to replace the subject Firestone ATX tire.

As to Bridgestone Firestone, plaintiff contended the tire was manufactured in 1996, and was part of Firestone’s “C 95″ cost cutting program implemented by Firestone to save money by removing rubber, steel and anti-ozonants and anti-oxidents from certain tires, thereby lowering Firestone’s production costs, increasing Firestone’s profit and compromising the integrity of the tires and jeopardizing the safety of the unknowing public. The reduction of rubber, steel and anti-oxidents substantially compromised the integrity of the tires and increased the likelihood of failure and tread separations. The skim stock used to manufacture the subject tire was defective, and resulted in inadequate adhesion between the steel and rubber components and caused or contributed to the tread separation. Plaintiff also contended that although Firestone recalled the subject tire, that Firestone’s recall efforts were inadequate.

As to Ford, plaintiffs contended that the subject tire was developed by both Ford and Firestone to be used specifically on the Ford Explorer- thus Ford is liable for placing the subject 1996 Ford Explorer in the stream of commerce with the defective tires as original equipment. In developing the Ford Explorer, Ford was unable to produce a vehicle that would pass its own internal stability testing. Ford also ignored recommendations of its own engineers regarding the stability of the Explorer. In spite of the Explorer’s inability to pass Ford’s own testing criteria, and in spite of the recommendations of Ford’s Engineers which management ignored, Ford Motor Company released an unsafe vehicle into the stream of commerce. Ford was negligent in designing the vehicle from an occupant protection standpoint, with poor rollover resistance, and poor handling and stability; and failing to test the vehicle to ensure the design provides reasonable occupant protection in the event of a foreseeable rollover. Ford failed to instruct and/or properly monitor its dealers such as Sunrise Ford regarding the removal, replacement and/or recall of defective/recalled tires as set forth above. Plaintiffs also contended that Ford has an “On Line Automotive Service Information System” commonly referred to as “OASIS” which Ford uses to communicate with its dealers such as Sunrise Ford about warranty issues, recalls and recall notices. One of the purposes of OASIS is to identify open recalls, and Ford Dealers such as Sunrise Ford are required to perform an OASIS inquiry for every vehicle that is brought in for service. Plaintiffs contended that Ford was negligent in failing to place the subject Firestone ATX tire on OASIS.

Defendants contentions

Neither the tire nor the vehicle were defective and the recall efforts were adequate

past medical expenses $108,830.80 future medical expenses $203,648

past loss of earnings $88,034.31 future loss of earnings $104,336.96


Degloving of left arm ( “exposed bone, open fracture” “ extensive laceration to left upper extremity degloving from the axilla” “Mangled left upper extremity with fracture of the medial epicondyle and exposed neurovascular structures” “loss of neuromuscular function”), which required extensive surgeries (open reduction internal fixation, debridement, skin grafts, plastic surgery, etc.). Plaintiff’s other injuries included rib fractures, fractured sternum, left temporal scalp laceration, right ear laceration, left ear hematoma, fractured auricular cartilage (surgically repaired) , dislocated temporal mandibular joint.