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Ford Pays $51 Million To Settle Rollover Suit

States Get $300,000 Each Over Charges Carmaker Misled Public

Dec 21, 2002

Delaware will receive $300,000 as part of the $51 million national settlement reached Friday between Ford Motor Co. and state attorneys general over charges of deceptive trade practices in the sale and advertising of sport utility vehicles.

Delaware Attorney General M. Jane Brady signed off on the agreement and it was approved by Superior Court Judge Joseph Slights in a brief proceeding Friday in Wilmington. The other 49 states, the District of Columbia and two territories also were to sign off on the agreement Friday. Some, however, will be doing so on Monday, according to Deputy Attorney General Ralph K. Durstein.

Delaware did not originally file suit against Ford, but agreed to join in the national settlement. Durstein said the settlement represented a victory for consumers.

"This makes it clear in the marketing, advertising and sales of products that there are standards that have to be upheld," he said.

The states alleged that Ford failed to disclose a known safety risk involving Firestone tires on some Ford SUVs manufactured between 1990 and 2001. Ford denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to reforms as part of the settlement.

The problems of rollover accidents involving some Ford SUVs equipped with Firestone tires received national attention and were the focus of congressional hearings. Ford blamed the accidents on faulty Firestone tires. Firestone blamed the accidents on badly designed Ford SUVs.

Ford has spent $2 billion to replace tires on some SUVs across the country, according to officials.

A similar national settlement between the states and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., for $51.5 million, was reached last year.

Most of the Ford settlement, $30 million, will be used to fund a series of public service safety announcements, but each of the states received a cash payout.

All of the $300,000 earmarked for Delaware will go to the state's consumer protection fund, Durstein said. It will be used for investigations of consumer complaints.

Attorney John D. Balaguer, who represented Ford at the proceeding, declined to comment Friday.

The settlement between the states and Ford does not stop individuals from filing suit against Ford, according Lori Sitler, spokeswoman for the Delaware Attorney General's Office.

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