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Ford, Firestone settle Calif. rollover lawsuit

LOS ANGELES, July 16 Gina Keating writing for Reuters reported that "Ford Motor Co.and Firestone on Tuesday settled a lawsuit filed by the families of two people killed in a 2000 rollover accident, hours before the case was set to go to trial, a spokeswoman for the tire company said.

The terms of the settlement with the families of Gary Lynn Meeks and his granddaughter Amy Meeks, reached in Los Angeles, were not disclosed at the request of all parties, said Kim Aduss a spokeswoman for Firestone.

"We are very glad to reach a fair settlement that would hopefully bring some closure to the Meek family," Aduss said. "We don't feel that extended litigation is in anyone's interest."

Gary Lynn Meeks and his 13-year-old granddaughter, Amy Meeks, were killed in August 2000 in Sublette County, Wyoming, after the left rear of their Ford Explorer blew out and lost its tread. The case was to have been heard in Los Angeles because both are residents of that city and were on vacation when the fatal accident occurred.

The accident happened 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.

Federal regulators have linked defective Firestone tires to crashes that killed 271 people and injured hundreds more. Many of those tires were installed as standard equipment on Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.

Both companies have settled hundreds of similar cases out of court, and a Texas lawsuit against Firestone and Ford ended in a mistrial after opening statements in April.

Attorneys for all three parties were preparing to make opening statements on Tuesday afternoon to a downtown Los Angeles jury while settlement negotiations continued, attorneys said.

The agreement was announced at a late morning hearing to wrap up last-minute pretrial issues.

Ford attorneys also announced that they had reached a settlement in another Los Angeles rollover case that was scheduled for later trial before the same judge, the court clerk said.

Terms of that settlement were not immediately available and attorneys for all parties were still before Judge Anthony Mohr late Tuesday morning.