In 2000 and 2001, Firestone and Ford supposedly recalled millions of defective Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT Tires that came as original equipment on Ford Explorers. Nevertheless, in June 2007, Peter Ludwig was driving his 1996 Ford Explorer when the left rear tire experienced a tread separation and the Explorer rolled over causing catastrophic injury. The tire was a Firestone ATX, that came as original equipment on the Ford Explorer, and was not recaptured in the recall.
Mr. Ludwig subsequently retained the Law Offices of Gary C. Eto and the Law Offices of Johnny Lee to represent him. A lawsuit was filed. The complaint alleges causes of action for Products Liability (Strict Liability, Design and Manufacturing Defects) , Negligence and Breach of Warranty against Ford and Firestone.
As to Firestone, the tire was part of Firestone’s “C 95″ project, which was a 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 health, lives and safety of the unknowing public. The reduction of rubber, steel and anti-oxidents in the tires substantially increased the likelihood that such tires would fail and experience tread separations. Plaintiffs complaint also alleges the skim stock, innerliner gauge, interbelt gauge, belt wedge gauge, and W7 gauge, were inadequate and defective ; that the Firestone ATX tire was defectively designed without a cap ply, cap strips, or nylon overlay which reduces the risk of tread separations; and that Firestone failed to warn of tire aging. Plaintiff’s also contend that prior discovery contains admissions to the effect that the subject tire was defective as it did not meet consumer expectations.
As to Ford, the Ford Explorer was defective and unsafe for its intended purpose in that it had a propensity to roll over or turn over, during sudden emergency maneuvers. Ford Motor Company had a longstanding arrangement with defendant Firestone to supply original equipment tires for placement/installation on “new” Ford vehicles, such as the Ford Explorer, including but not limited to model year 1996, such as the subject vehicle in this action. Ford was instrumental in pressuring Firestone to reduce the cost of supplying original equipment tires for placement on the Ford Explorer. Firestone’s response was to reduce the amount of rubber and steel it placed in these original equipment Firestone ATX tires, thereby compromising the integrity and safety of the tires. The development of these tires was a cooperative effort by both Ford and Firestone.
Both Ford Motor Company and Bridgestone/Firestone entered into confidential settlements with the plaintiff. Sunrise Ford, which failed to detect and remove the aged and recalled tire from Mr. Ludwig’s vehicle, entered into a six-figure settlement with the plaintiffs