Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Cases Settle

Following the August 2000 recall, several state and federal court class actions were initiated in various courts, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an investigation into approximately 59 million ATX, Wilderness, and similar brand Firestone tires. The lawsuits were later consolidated in the Southern District of Indiana, under In re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. Tires Products Liability Litigation, and were initially granted nationwide class certification. In May 2002, however, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s grant of class certification and multiple plaintiffs in multiple states initiated and/or continued to proceed against Firestone in state courts. When the Court of Appeals decertified a nationwide class action against Firestone, the Court also instructed the federal district court to enter an injunction prohibiting any class member in the decertified class from proceeding with nationwide litigation class claims in state court over Firestone’s objection. The Seventh Circuit exempted settlement classes from this prohibition. Thus, the only way to resolve the issues raised by this litigation on a nationwide basis is through a settlement class action like the one proposed in Shields v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., et al. pending in the District Court of Texas.

The settlement would resolve claims by owners or lessors of vehicles equipped with Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT whose tires were among those investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2000, but who did not sustain personal injury or property damage. Specifically, the class is defined as follows (the “Tire Settlement Class”):

All persons, business entities, governments, association, or other entities of whatever kind or character, that are or were purchasers, owners or lessors of Firestone ATX, ATX II, Wilderness AT, and other tires subject to the investigation initiated by the National Highway Traffics Safety Administration on May 4, 2000, into the performance of certain Firestone tires, including the types and sizes of tires listed in Exhibit A; provided, however, that the Tire Settlement Class excludes (a) the Defendants; (b) purchasers, owners or lessors of such tires who have sustained personal injury; (c) original-equipment automobile manufacturers; (d) purchasers of tires for purposes of distribution or resale; (e) purchasers, owners, or lessors who have sustained property damage other than to their tires (and for purposes of this Settlement, diminution in value of a vehicle does not constitute property damage); and (f) any judicial officer(s) presiding over this Action or the Related Action.

As part of the proposed settlement agreement, Bridgestone/Firestone has agreed to spend $15.4 million on a consumer education and awareness campaign for three years and will also implement tire design changes intended to provide better high speed capacity. The settlement allows for anyone still driving on the tires to take them to a Firestone Tire and Service Center, where they will be replaced at no charge. Firestone also would set up a toll-free hot line and website to provide information regarding the settlement.

The parties in the lawsuit have until August 25, 2003, to submit a proposal for a notification program for members of the class action lawsuits.

The settlement does not resolve claims pending against Ford Motor Company. Green & Noblin, P.C., is pursuing litigation against Ford in California and other states. For more information about the Firestone settlement or the litigation against Ford, please contact us at 1-888-610-4768 or by e-mail at: gn@classcounsel.com.