Venezuela Considering Criminal Charges Against Ford, Firestone
28 August 2000Safetyforum.com Says: Venezuela Considering Criminal Charges Against Ford, Firestone
ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 25 Venezuela may be considering criminal charges for involuntary manslaughter against both Firestone and Ford for their mishandling of tire failures and Ford Explorer rollover problems in that country, according to a report broadcast last night by KHOU investigative reporter Anna Werner in Houston, Texas. Chief of Venezuela's Institute of Defense and Consumer Protection, Ruh Rios told Werner that the companies "knew that this constituted a threat to the lives of many Venezuelans who were riding on defective tires and in trucks that had structural defects. And, they attempted to overcome this problem without informing the users about what was happening." Rios claims that Firestone promised to put a layer of nylon on replacement tires that they provided in Venezuela. The replacement tires were labeled as though they had a layer of nylon when they actually did not, he told KHOU. KHOU's Werner reported Ruh Rios also claims part of the problem with the crashes lies with the Ford Explorer's suspension. He says Ford began a program a year ago to improve the suspensions in Venezuelan Explorers. "Ford admitted that the shocks were extremely "soft" and that if the Explorers were equipped with tires with 35 pounds of pressure, the truck became hard to handle, " Rios said. Ford recalled all Firestone Wilderness tires in Venezuela regardless of their size and where they were made. "These reports confirm what we've been saying all along," said Little Rock, Arkansas attorney Tab Turner. "Firestone tire failures and the improper design of the Explorer are inextricably interwoven. They are one and the same issue, sharing the blame. However, there will be plenty of time to apportion blame. What we need to do right now is to stop pointing fingers and get these tires off the road," Turner said. Turner is Safetyforum.com's "Attorney of Record" for tires.