Firestone Agrees To Settlement In Class Action Suit.- Tire Owners Call 866 345 0360

CHICAGO July 24, 2003; Karen Padley and Susan Kelly writing for Reuters reported that a Texas judge on Thursday gave preliminary approval to a national class-action settlement involving Bridgestone Corp.'s Firestone unit and its August 2000 recall of 6.5 million tires.

As part of the settlement, Firestone would spend $15.5 million on a three-year consumer education program focusing on tire safety and incorporate technology that would improve the high-speed capability of some tires.

Judge Donald Floyd in Texas' 172nd District Court in Beaumont, Texas, directed lawyers for both sides to come up with a plan to notify those eligible for the settlement. The proposal is subject to a final fairness hearing.

Consumers who had the recalled Wilderness AT and ATX tires can get more information toll free by calling 866-345-0360.

The settlement applies only to those who were not personally injured or have property damage as a result of an accident involving the recalled tires. Hundreds of personal injury lawsuits still pending over rollover accidents involving tread separation.

Federal authorities have linked the tires, mostly installed on Ford Motor Co. Explorers, with 271 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Most of the personal injury lawsuits have been settled out of court.

Firestone, based in Nashville, Tennessee, said it will incorporate the new manufacturing technology involving cap strips, nylon strips or comparable elements in some tires for seven years. It also will pay $19 million in legal fees and $2,500 each to 45 named plaintiffs in the case, a Firestone spokesman said.

The company said that any consumer that did not have the recalled tires replaced earlier can take the tires to a Firestone Tire and Service Center to be replaced free of charge.

Firestone, as part of the agreement, would not admit any wrongdoing or liability.

The company had fought an earlier attempt in Indianapolis federal court to have such claims certified as a national class action. It said it decided to settle a case in Texas and expand it nationwide in order to avoid the burden and expense of protracted legal action.

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