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Jury selection to start in Ford, Firestone trial

LOS ANGELES, July 8 Reuters reported that jury selection is scheduled to start on Tuesday in Los Angeles in a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. and tire company Firestone over an August 2000 rollover accident that killed two people.

The accident occurred in Sublette County, Wyoming, about eight days after Firestone, a unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp had voluntarily recalled 6.5 million of its ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires.

Gary Lynn Meek and his 13-year-old granddaughter, Amy Meek, were killed after the left rear tire on the Ford Explorer they were riding in blew out and lost its tread. Their families, California residents, were on vacation at the time and hadn't heard about the recall.

Federal regulators have linked the tread separation of Firestone tires, mostly on Ford's popular Explorer sport utility vehicle, to 271 deaths and more than 800 injuries.

Jury selection will start Tuesday at 1:30 PDT (4:30 EDT), according to Firestone and attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Both Ford and Firestone have settled hundreds of cases out of court. The Meek case could be the first involving both companies to be tried completely. Another case involving Ford and Firestone only got as far as opening statements in April before it was declared a mistrial.

In addition, the Meek case could be the first to be decided by a jury. Firestone settled last year with the Joel Rodriguez family of Pharr, Texas, for a reported $7.5 million while a jury was still deliberating a verdict. His wife, Marisa, suffered a brain stem injury and is now partially paralyzed.

The Meek case is being heard before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr and is expected to last several weeks.