FINDLAY, Ohio (Sept. 26, 2000) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is proactively fighting off speculation that its tires also could be the subject of a federal probe.
"We want to get the information out as quickly as possible that we have absolutely no safety issues with our tires," a Cooper spokeswoman said.
Thomas A. Dattilo, chairman, CEO and president of Findlay-based Cooper, said in a Sept. 24 written statement that the company is not under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for alleged tread separation problems.
"I spoke on the telephone late Friday afternoon (Sept. 22) with Dr. Sue Bailey, head of NHTSA, and she confirmed that at this time, the information that NHTSA has received and is continuing to analyze does not warrant the opening of an investigation into Cooper Tire," Mr. Dattilo said.
The New York Times reported Sept. 22 that accident reports and court records showed that premature tread separation in Cooper tires—many of which were produced at the tire maker´s Tupelo, Miss., plant—was ruled the cause of at least 35 deaths over the last six years.
As with the tire failures linked to Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. that allegedly led to 101 deaths, nearly all of the Cooper lawsuits make reference to a sport-utility vehicle or light truck outfitted with Cooper aftermarket tires and driven at high speeds in hot-weather states, the paper reported.
Cooper is "anxious" to defend itself against those cases, the spokeswoman said. "We have examined all of our records. . . . There is no pattern in any of the lawsuits against us in terms of plant, dates, lines or anything that would remotely suggest a problem like Bridgestone/Firestone´s."
NHTSA has received information on all tire makers, including Cooper, the tire maker quoted Dr. Bailey as saying. "But at this time, there´s been no decision to open an investigation."
The federal regulatory agency confirmed there will not be an investigation at this time, but said its process includes the continuous collection and analysis of information in the matter.