New Book Discusses the Firestone/Bridgestone Recall Campaign of the Early 2000s
For those who litigate tire accidents, the Firestone/Bridgestone recall was the largest case ever. To this day, Ford refuses to do business with Firestone/Bridgestone on account of how they handled the debacle. The book outlines the story of the husband and wife team that was responsible for the campaign to remove the tires from the stream of commerce. Their efforts resulted in nearly 11 million Steeltex tires from being removed from U.S. highways and roads and a major class action lawsuit against Firestone/Bridgestone and the car manufacturers that used Firestone/Bridgestone’s Steeltex model tires.
This Case was a Game Changer
While lawsuits against tire companies were nothing new at the time, it was one of the first times in history that the allegations against the company involved a defect that was intrinsic to the design. Additionally, these tires were sold with full-sized SUVs which were quite popular in the family demographic at the time. The tires were specifically made for Ford Excursions and these were marketed to families as luxury family vehicles.
According to the lawsuit, a defect in the design resulted in catastrophic tread failure. Attorneys for the plaintiffs alleged that Firestone/Bridgestone took shortcuts in the manufacture of these tires which made the tread separations inevitable. Firestone/Bridgestone initiated a voluntary recall that began after several fatalities. A few years earlier, the company initiated a recall for ATX tires that resulted in over 17 million tires being pulled from the market.
While the recall of these tires was praised by those at NHTSA, attorneys for the plaintiffs likened it to the first crack in a dam that’s about to burst. The recall represented only a fraction of the tires that had been produced with substandard parts. The Steeltex technology was used on emergency vehicles, SUVs, and pickups.
The lawsuit sought over $1 billion in compensatory damages and demanded that the Steeltex tires be recalled.
One of the major problems with a lawsuit like this is that the failure was not relegated to any individual make or model. While the initial recall only related to the Ford Excursion after five sudden deaths related to tread failure, the problem was found in all Steeltex tires. Nonetheless, tire safety experts believed that the tires failed due to the load range being insufficient on the SUV models. The tires built for the Excursion were unique. After the tires were recalled, Excursions were fitted with tires that were graded for heavier loads.
Additionally, Firestone representatives continued to say that the Steeltex tires were safe even after the recall related to the Excursion models. The lawsuit contended that the Steeltex tires suffered a lamination defect that caused the steel belting that was bonded to the body of the tire to separate. This likely had more to do with heat and less to do with weight load.
Talk to a Tire Defect Attorney
If you believe a tire failure caused your injuries, talk to the Coral Gables tire defect attorneys at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert today for a free consultation.