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ARTICLE ID 42214

CONFIDENTIAL - PRODUCT LIABILITY - DEFECTIVE DESIGN - OVERSTEER DEFECT IN EVENT OF TIRE FAILURE RESULTING IN VEHICLE ROLLOVER - WRONGFUL DEATH - SIX OCCUPANTS OF FORD EXPEDITION WERE KILLED WHEN THE VEHICLE ROLLED OVER AFTER TIRE TREAD DETACHED WHILE DRIVING.

San Bernardino County, California

This was a products liability case in which the plaintiffs alleged that the design of the Ford Expedition (similar to the design of the Ford Explorer) was dangerous and defective and would cause over-steering to occur in the event of a tire tread detachment. The plaintiffs alleged that the six occupants of the vehicle were killed when the vehicle rolled over after the rear tire’s tread detached while the vehicle was moving. The defendant contended that the tires were worn beyond repair and were the cause of the rollover and death of the occupants.

On May 18, ________, three couples aged from 45 to 75 where occupants of a ________ Ford Expedition. The vehicle was traveling northbound on Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County, California when suddenly and without warning the tread on the left rear tire detached. The vehicle was equipped with Continental Grabber AW tires. The vehicle immediately went out of control and rolled over. All six occupants of the vehicle were killed as a result of the collision. Their bodies were ejected, crushed, decapitated and dismembered as a result of the incident, causing their deaths.

The plaintiffs brought suit alleging that the Ford Expedition, a sister vehicle to the Ford Explorer also exhibits an over- steering defect in the event of a tire failure, particularly when tread separation occurs. The plaintiff alleged that the Ford Expedition became inherently unstable when the left rear tire tread detached causing the rollover. The plaintiff further alleged that the Grabber AW tires on the Ford Expedition are prone to tread separation because of manufacturing and design defects. The plaintiff alleged that prior to the decedents’ deaths Ford and Continental had meetings and discussions regarding the problems with Continental’s tires on Ford Expeditions and the resulting injuries. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant failed to issue any warnings or recalls despite this knowledge until August ________. At that time the plaintiff alleged that Continental Grabber AW tires were recalled for not having adequate rubber gauge along the belt edge which could lead to tread separation and loss of vehicle control. The plaintiff also alleged that Ford independently recalled the Model ________ Ford Expedition due to tire placards on the vehicle that prescribed lower than recommended tire pressure. The defendant contended that the tires on the decedents’ vehicle were beyond their serviceable life and that the failed rear tire had been improperly repaired at some point in time prior to the incident. The defendants maintained that the vehicle owner should have been on notice based upon the poor condition of all four tires that the tires needed replacement. The defendant argued that the condition of the right front tire was worn beyond the legal limits and the vehicle should not have been on the road. The defendant stated that the driver of the vehicle also overcorrected and applied excessive braking when the tire detachment occurred which contributed to the rollover. The defendant also argued that the four ejected occupants of the vehicle were not restrained at the time of the collision.

The matter was settled for a confidential amount four days before the trial was to commence.

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