FORD AGGRESSIVELY SETTLES 31 ROLLOVER CLAIMS
PHOENIX, ARIZONA. Ford Motor Co. has reached settlements with 31 people who were injured or killed in 11 separate rollover accidents involving the Explorer and other Ford vehicles with Firestone tires. Five people were killed in the accidents and 26 were injured.
“Ford was very aggressive about settling these cases,” said Adam A. Studnicki, a Phoenix, Arizona trial attorney representing the victims and their families. “We were shocked when Ford approached us early on about settlement. That type of behavior is unheard of for Ford.”
Lawsuits had been filed in only three of the cases. No trial dates had been set. “Normally these types of cases either do not settle or settle right before trial,” said Studnicki.
Studnicki and attorney Robert W. Boatman are co-lead counsel for all of the Arizona lawsuits filed against Ford and Firestone, which currently number in excess of 30. That number represents only a portion of the Arizona-related accidents. “We received a phone call from 4 people who were recently injured after a Firestone Wilderness AT tire separated on a Ford Explorer,” said Studnicki. “Fortunately, Ford started to take steps early on to correct this problem by redesigning the Explorer and recalling additional tires. It is time for Firestone to step to the plate and do the right thing. We were happy to see that the government forced them to finally recall more defective tires.”
Many of the claims settled by Ford involved serious injuries. In one accident, 3 people were killed and 5 were injured after an Explorer rolled over. “That accident was particularly devastating,” Boatman said. “One of the victims was a 30-year old man who lost both his wife and his 3-year-old son at the same time.”
Other cases involved permanent paralysis, serious head injuries and broken bones. A 44-year old woman was literally “scalped” in a rollover accident. She underwent ten painful surgeries over a two-year period in which doctors had to stretch out the skin from her forehead to cover the rest of her head. She is finally beginning to put the pieces of her life back together, although she will have to live with a disfigured head forever.
The terms of the settlements are confidential. “The families are very happy,” said Studnicki. “Although their physical and emotional scars will never fully heal, at least this helps add some closure.”
Studnicki and Boatman are still pursing damages against Bridgestone/Firestone on behalf of the families who were injured and killed in the accidents. “We are very optimistic about our claims against Firestone and its parent company. If Firestone does not accept responsibility like Ford, we look forward to taking these cases to trial. Although both companies are responsible, Firestone is the root cause of these accidents. If their tires had not failed, the accidents would not have happened,” Studnicki said. The federal government has linked at least 203 deaths and over 700 injuries in the United States to Firestone tires and Ford Explorers.