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Ford, Firestone Settle Michigan Case

Ford, Firestone Settle Michigan Case Out of Court for an Undisclosed Amount

Dec 21, 2001 | AP

A Michigan man who became a paraplegic when his Ford Explorer rolled over after one of its Firestone tires failed has settled his case out of court for an undisclosed amount, his lawyer said Friday.

Chuck Burt, 26, of White Lake, Mich., was paralyzed on June 25, 2000 when a tire tread separation caused the vehicle to roll over on Interstate 96 in Livingston County, Mich., his attorney Bob Tyler said.

Burt was riding in the back seat with his daughter as his wife drove, Tyler said.

The case was scheduled to go to trial Jan. 7 in Livingston County Circuit Court, but Burt decided to settle with both companies, Tyler said.

``It becomes a client's decision. They have to look at what's being offered to them, what they can do with the remainder of their life, and make a practical choice,'' Tyler said.

``This is another example of the Firestone program to try to reach an appropriate settlement with injured parties whenever possible,'' said Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. spokeswoman, Christine Karbowiak.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker has settled close to 500 cases out of court so far, Karbowiak said.

Under pressure from the federal government, Bridgestone/Firestone agreed last year to recall 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires.

Last May, the almost century-old relationship between Firestone and Ford was severed when the automaker began a program to buy back 13 million Firestone tires it believed would deteriorate quicker than competitors' tires.

In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its investigation after Bridgestone/Firestone agreed to recall 3.5 million more Wilderness ATs.

At that time, NHTSA downplayed the role of the Explorer in accidents that killed at least 271 and injured at least 700. But a NHTSA official later said that the agency is still examining the evidence and will likely decide by year's end whether to begin a formal investigation into the Explorer.

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