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Class action ruling puts Bridgestone/Firestone, Ford on the defensive

Order Reprints

A federal judge has decided to lump plaintiffs seeking payment for losses connected to Ford Explorer roll-over accidents involving Firestone tires together into one class action lawsuit.

The broad-based suit is open to all United States residents who bought or leased 1991 through 2001 model year Explorers on or before Aug. 9, 2000, when the original Firestone recall started.

It also includes "all current residents of the U.S. who owned or leased at any time from 1990 to the present vehicles that are or were equipped with Firestone ATX, ATX II, Firehawk ATX, ATX 23 Degree, Widetrack Baja Radial and Wilderness tires," according to the official court order.

In addition, it includes "all tires that are the same" as the above units "sold by Firestone under other brand names," plus "all other tires manufactured by Firestone that are the same or substantially similar" to the aformentioned products.

Some of the tires involved have never been under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation, according to a Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) Inc. spokesperson.

"NHTSA says (they are) fine."

The class action suit -- which BFS plans to appeal -- deals with economic claims, not personal injury or property damage issues, company officials say.

"The issues and circumstances in these lawsuits are far too varied to justify class certification."

BFS believes the lawsuit "will deteriorate into thousands of mini-trials."

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