Ford Motor Company and Michelin Tire Face Trial Today in Explorer Rollover Lawsuit

Ford, Michelin Face Trial in Rollover Suit

June 4, 2002
By Lawrence Viele

EDINBURG, TEXAS - Ford Motor Co. and Michelin & Cie. face a trial today in a Texas state court in a wrongful death suit brought by the family of a couple killed in a roll-over wreck after a tire failure. Raul Aguirre Pedraza, 48, and his wife, Ana Maria Martinez de Aguirre, 45, were killed in January 2000 when their 1995 Explorer flipped on a highway near Monterrey, Mexico, after a tire-tread separation. Ford says the wreck was caused by driver error.

It's the fourth time Ford has gone to trial to defend the sport-utility vehicle's stability, which came under scrutiny after federal safety officials linked Firestone tires made for Explorers to 271 deaths. No jury has found Ford liable for alleged Explorer defects, and the automaker has blamed the wrecks on Bridgestone Corp.'s Firestone unit.

"For the past 18 months and beyond, Ford has been blaming Firestone for tread-separation-related rollovers," said the Aguirre family's attorney. "In this particular case, Ford will have to defend its product without having the benefit of Firestone to blame." Ford disputes claims that the Explorer is unstable.

Michelin spokeswoman Nancy Banks said: "We are confident that the tire was not at fault in this very unfortunate tragic accident."

SOURCE: Bloomberg