FAMILIES OF VICTIMS FILE SUIT AGAINST FORD AND CONTINENTAL TIRE
FOR DEADLY ROLLOVER / SIX VIOLENTLY KILLED
Manufacturers Didn't Recall Tires After Knowing They Were Faulty
Los Angeles - On Tuesday May 13, 2003, surviving family members filed a 41-page complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against Ford Motor Company and Continental Tire Company for strict liability and punitive damages related to one of the most horrible single-vehicle rollover crashes in California history. As a result of the rollover, bodies were crushed, mangled and ejected and the pre-death injuries included decapitation. The Superior Court complaint alleges that both Ford and Continental knew that the Ford Expedition sports utility vehicle equipped with Continental's General Grabber tires would become inherently unstable and rollover in the event of a tire blowout, and that the Grabber tires themselves were prone to tread separation and blowout because of inherent defects.
On May 18, 2002, three (3) Los Angeles couples, Antonio and Maria Lucero, Eva and Jose Rodriguez and Yolanda and Ismael Flores were traveling in a 2000 Ford Expedition northbound on Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County, California. Suddenly and without warning, the General Grabber tire on the left rear blew out, and the Expedition immediately rolled over, killing all six (6) occupants. The complaint alleges that the Ford Expedition, a sister vehicle to the Ford Explorer, was known to have a dangerous oversteer defect in the event of a tire blowout.
In addition, the complaint asserts that, prior to this tragic rollover, the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of the Ford / Firestone investigation had determined that the General Grabber tire (which Ford recommended as a replacement for the Firestone tire) had a tire separation claims rate more than twice as high as the failure rate internally considered unacceptable by Ford Motor Company. This startling determination was reported, according to the complaint, by House Energy and Commerce Committee leader William ("Billy") Tauzin (R-Louisiana) in 2001, well before this deadly rollover took the lives of its six victims in May of 2002. The complaint further alleges that Representative Tauzin reported in 2001 that replacement tires in the Ford/Firestone recall, including the General Grabber, had higher failure rates than the original Firestone tires; yet Ford and Continental continued to put more than 500,000 of the suspect tires on Ford Expeditions and other Ford products.
The complaint alleges that in and prior to April of 2002, weeks and months before these deaths, Ford and Continental officials held discussions and actual meetings regarding the exceedingly high number of claims and injuries related to use of Continental's General Grabber tires on the Ford Expedition and other Ford products, and had discussed known tire failure modes including uneven wear, vibration and separation, all of which are precursors to sudden tire failure. Yet, according to the complaint, no warnings or recalls were initiated until August of 2002, months after this particular rollover which, according to the complaint, spurred the recall.
All of the victims and their family members are represented by Attorneys Raymond Paul Johnson of Westwood and Terrance Ponchak of San Pedro, California. Mr. Johnson, who concentrates his practice on rollover cases, stated: "In my fifteen years of litigating rollover cases, I have never seen one with more compelling facts. The law is squarely and rightfully in favor of my clients, and we will prevail – for them and for the other potential victims throughout America."
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For further information, please contact Attorney Raymond Paul Johnson directly at (310) 246-9300, the Law Offices of Raymond Paul Johnson, 10990 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1150, Westwood, Los Angeles, California.