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Oppenheim Pilelsky and Kluger Peretz Kaplan & Berlin Announce Class Action Lawsuit Against Bridgestone/Firestone

15 August 2000

Families Refuse to Ride With Danger - South Florida Suit Asks for Emergency Vouchers to Replace Tires

    MIAMI -

    As the anxiety builds regarding the nationwide recall of millions of Firestone tires, several South Florida families have filed a class action suit against the tiremaker. The lawsuit was filed today in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court by attorneys Roy Oppenheim and Bill McCarty of Oppenheim Pilelsky, and Alan Kluger and Steve Silverman of Kluger Peretz Kaplan & Berlin.

    The suit asks for emergency "equitable relief" for those persons who have been refused immediate replacement of tires by Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., the manufacturer of the tires. Drivers of Ford Explorers and other vehicles outfitted with the recalled tires have been told they must wait until Bridgestone/Firestone can replace them, which could be months away, due to the magnitude of the recall. This means they are compelled to drive on unsafe tires. The lawsuit demands "vouchers" be issued immediately so that the recalled tires can be replaced with suitable tires from any other manufacturer.

    "Lives are in danger," said attorney Roy Oppenheim. "It is imperative that Firestone take corrective and instantaneous measures to assure the safety of every driver, passenger and the unsuspecting motoring public. This lawsuit will hopefully compel the company to do the right thing."

    "While this suit was brought by some families with financial concerns, the intent is to represent all owners of these potentially hazardous tires without regard to their financial status," said attorney Alan Kluger. "There are many families where an outlay of hundreds of dollars for new tires is simply not possible. Firestone must make certain that no more accidents or deaths result from these potentially dangerous tires and provide the means to have all customers receive new tires."

    According to Oppenheim, "Families are reluctant to wait, knowing the potential danger of these tires. Airlines provide vouchers for passengers who miss a flight due to a problem caused by the airline. It makes sense for Bridgestone/ Firestone to do the same. In fact, it is shameful that this offer has not already been made."

    Vouchers for new tires would allow anyone affected, regardless of their personal finances, to replace tires immediately. Because the company has agreed to eventually do this, vouchers eliminate the waiting time.

    "Bridgestone/Firestone needs to be proactive," said co-counsel Alan Kluger. "With the heat of a South Florida summer and the composition of the roads, the likelihood of tread separation appears to be much greater. These tires are, in essence, ticking time bombs. The staggered recall - and waiting period - could be eliminated by offering vouchers that would be accepted at any tire retailer."

    Bridgestone/Firestone has already targeted Florida, Arizona, Texas and California as the first states to receive relief based on the high summer temperatures, which appear to affect the tires. However, the company has said that the complete process of replacement will take approximately 18 months' and be lengthy even for the four primary states. According to co-counsel Bill McCarty, "Based on the press accounts of approximately 50 deaths and numerous injuries already attributable to the recalled Firestone tires, another 18 months use of these tires will certainly result in further injuries and loss of life which can be prevented with the voucher system."

    Steve Silverman, also a partner at Kluger Peretz Kaplan & Berlin, reaffirmed the families' commitment to seeing this lawsuit through. "This lawsuit is not about financial gain. It's about corporate responsibility and public safety," he said.

    Oppenheim Pilelsky is a law firm concentrating its practice in consumer litigation, real estate, business, insurance and Internet-related matters, and select cases concerning personal injury and wrongful death.

    Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan & Berlin, P.A. engages principally in the practice of business law, including the areas of commercial litigation, bankruptcy, intellectual property, real estate, domestic & international corporate transactions, including mergers & acquisitions, lender-borrower liability, securities, antitrust, broker liability, and aviation. The firm also handles family and domestic relation's cases and, on a selective basis, negligence and catastrophic injury cases. The firm maintains offices in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.