Cooper tentatively resolves class action lawsuits

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. announced its has reached a tentative agreement which resolves a series of class action lawsuits filed against the company over the past year.

The proposed three-part settlement package denies any wrongdoing or legal liability by Cooper, "but offers a unique enhancement of existing warranties as the company's vote of confidence in Cooper tires' durability and safety," the company says. There was never a claim of personal injury or property damage involved in the lawuits, the company adds, and there will be no cash awards to plaintiffs as part of the settlement.

The three-part settlement package includes a five-year program offering a free replacement tire against separations for all steel belted radial tires produced by Cooper from 1985 through 2001, some modifications to final inspections and a consumer education program to promote tire safety.

As a result of the settlement agreement, Cooper will record a pretax charge of $55 million, with net cash outlays of approximately $5 million and $19 million in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The remaining amount will be paid over the balance of the five-year warranty enhancement program.

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