Lisoni & Lisoni Provides NHTSA With Nationwide Firestone Steeltex Tire Defect ComplaintsWASHINGTON, D.C.--Nov. 15, 2002--Lisoni & Lisoni, a California-based law firm which has filed a national class action lawsuit against Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. and Bridgestone Corporation, Inc., today filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) formally requesting that the agency reopen its investigation of the Firestone Steeltex tire series, which it suspended.
At the time the investigation was closed on April 9, 2002, the NHTSA said it would reopen its investigation if sufficient additional safety-related evidence became available. In conjunction with the filing of the petition, Lisoni & Lisoni announced it had provided the NHTSA today with extensive documentation and evidence, which included remnants of the Steeltex tires series -- R4S, R4SII and A/T -- that suffered severe tread separation. The evidence also included accident reports and a compilation of documented Steeltex-related defects provided by consumers and government entities throughout the country.
According to Attorney Joseph L. Lisoni, the evidence demonstrates excessive "catastrophic" tread separation incidents, which allegedly have caused 11 confirmed fatalities and debilitating personal injuries to include fractured necks, breast bones and wrists plus spinal injuries requiring surgery. The documentation also detailed incidents of vehicular accidents and property damage nationwide.
Lisoni pointed out that when the NHTSA closed its investigation citing insufficient evidence of alleged Steeltex tire defects, it had recorded 872 complaints from the public. He emphasized that a recent review of the NHTSA's website currently reports 2,972 Steeltex safety-related complaints -- which he described as a "staggering" increase of more than 300 percent.
In conjunction with the filing of the petition and presentation of evidence to the NHTSA, Lisoni & Lisoni held a morning news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at which the law firm outlined, reviewed and displayed the evidence it had gathered during its recent 90-day investigation.
Commenting on the law firm's petition to the NHTSA, Lisoni remarked: "Without question, we have a factual basis to give the NHTSA reasonable cause to reopen the investigation of the Firestone Steeltex tire series. We have documented thousands of safety complaints which have detailed a vast number of accidents, extensive personal and bodily injuries, multiple deaths and significant property damage. Certainly there is enough new evidence collected by the NHTSA itself since April to merit reopening the investigation."
Lisoni stressed that the primary objective of the class action lawsuit is to get Steeltex tires off the road through an NHTSA-facilitated recall. Terming the Steeltex tires "dangerous and lethal lemons," he commented, "The American motoring public has not been informed of their danger and therefore those whose vehicles have Steeltex tires are unaware they are putting themselves and their families in serious harm's way every time they drive on them."
Noting that there are 30 million Steeltex tires manufactured and Firestone keeps making more, Lisoni remarked: "There would be no need for a lawsuit if Firestone engaged in corporate accountability. On the heels of the Firestone Wilderness tire debacle," he added, "Firestone is again placing corporate profits ahead of safety."
William O. Hagerty, who is considered one of the nation's leading experts in tire failure analysis, also spoke at the news conference and detailed the cause for the tread separations in the Steeltex tire series. He stated the tires were "grossly defective" and reported that there were many points of similarity between the tread separation failures of the Steeltex and Wilderness tire series.
Commenting on the source of the alleged defects, Hagerty stressed: "We have reason to believe that Bridgestone ordered Firestone to `de-engineer' the tires to cut production costs, thereby compromising the quality and safety of the Steeltex tires. Ultimately, these less robust tires were unable to withstand the demands of larger vehicles. We also have reason to believe that Firestone instructed store owners not to submit warranty claims and tire failure complaints in exchange for purchasing discounts, bonuses and other incentives. This alleged directive allows Firestone to report artificially low failure numbers on the Steeltex tire series."
At the news conference, Lisoni displayed a map of the United States and traced the spread of deaths and injuries across the country from accidents allegedly caused by defective Steeltex tires. He reported that many consumers have reported their problems with Steeltex tires on the website administrated by his law firm for the class action lawsuit, www.firestonesteeltexclassaction.com. Through the website, consumers also can report their tire problems to the NHTSA, he added.