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Illinois To Get $1 Million In Ford Settlement

Nationwide Settlement Responds To Allegations Of SUV Risks

Dec 20, 2002 Illinois will receive approximately $1 million as part of a nationwide settlement with Ford Motor Company over allegations the company failed to disclose the risk of failures of certain tires equipped on Ford sport-utility vehicles.

On Friday, the Illinois Attorney General's office announced that it would receive a portion of a $51.5 million settlement with Ford after a nationwide lawsuit accused the company of misleading its customers.

The settlement closes an investigation of the safety of Ford Explorers and Mountaineers equipped with ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., according to a news release from the attorney general's office.

Illinois was one of eight states that launched an investigation in 2000 into claims that Ford violated consumer protection laws by failing to disclose the risk of rollovers on Ford SUVs equipped with Firestone tires sold as original equipment on the vehicles.

According to news reports, at least 271 traffic deaths have been linked to the tires, which are prone to losing their tread at high speeds.

Firestone has recalled millions of those tires since 2000 due to the safety risk, according to reports.

Under the agreement, Ford admits no wrongdoing, but agrees to provide safety information about cargo loading and vehicle handling to anyone who buys a Ford SUV.

The money will be shared among each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the release. The bulk of the money $30 million will be used to mount a national public service campaign on SUV safety.

The settlement is subject to court approval, but court information was not immediately available Friday afternoon.

Firestone paid $41.5 million to the states in 2001 regarding similar allegations of consumer fraud against the tire company, the release stated.

"This investigation was about consumer safety and fair advertising," Illinois Attorney Gen. Jim Ryan said in the news release.

"We are pleased that Ford cooperated with the states and that it has now accepted the responsibility of raising consumer awareness about SUV safety," he said.

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