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On August 9, 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. announced a recall of nearly 7,000,000 Firestone ATX, Firestone ATX II, and Wilderness AT tires linked to more than 200 deaths and 700 injuries in the United States. Many of these deaths and injuries involved rollovers of Ford Explorers, which used the recalled tires as standard equipment. Firestone claims that the design of the Explorer is a factor in the tire failures while Ford insists that the Explorer is safe and the Firestone tires are to blame. Firestone insists that it identified and remedied the problem with the recall last summer. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") recently completed a yearlong investigation into the safety and performance of Firestone tires not included in the recall and now recommends that Firestone recall additional tires. It appears that similar design problems exist for other Firestone tires, including certain steel belted small truck.
Over 200 cases filed in federal court were recently transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana before Judge Sarah Evans Baker for coordination of pretrial proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1407. In a recent victory for Firestone, on July 27, 2001, Judge Baker refused to grant an injunction that would have expanded the recall by several million tires.
Firestone continues to battle both plaintiffs and Ford Motor Company. However, it was recently reported that Firestone has now settled roughly 40% of the claims against it with regard to the recalled tires.
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