NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 27, 2000)—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. said it is "committed to working closely" with a new working group of 38 state attorneys-general empaneled to address issues related to BFS´s voluntary recall of 6.5 million tires.
Ford Motor Co., however, said it has not been approached by the group, which includes some states that are actively considering civil or criminal action against both companies.
John Lampe, BFS executive vice president, said Tennessee Attorney General Paul G. Summers notified the tire maker about the formation of the group. BFS officials were scheduled to meet with the group late in the week of Sept. 25, according to Mr. Lampe.
"We want them to know that we share their concern for their citizens´ safety and well being, as well as the desire to find the root cause of the tire failures that have occurred," he said in a Sept. 25 press release.
Among the states represented on the panel are some, such as South Carolina and New Mexico, whose public officials have expressed anger that their states weren´t listed by BFS among those getting priority treatment in the recall. South Carolina sued BFS for prioritizing other states.
Another of the states, California, is considering the possibility of conducting a criminal investigation of BFS and Ford under the state´s Corporate Liability Act. Consumers Union, the non-profit consumer advocacy group which publishes Consumer Reports, wrote California Attorney General Bill Lockyer in September, requesting the probe.
California´s Corporate Liability Act—the only one of its kind in the nation—makes corporate executives criminally liable if they withhold information about product defects or workplace hazards from state regulatory officials.
According to Consumers Union, Ford and BFS violated the statute when they sold Ford Explorers equipped with the now-recalled Firestone ATX and Wilderness AT tires in California.
"We do know he´s considering it," a spokesman for the consumer group said of Mr. Lockyer and their request. A spokeswoman for Mr. Lockyer´s office said only that "California is working with other states to investigate the Firestone recall."
A Ford spokeswoman said the auto maker has not been contacted about either the working group of attorneys general or the California criminal statute. "When we are contacted, we will cooperate fully and comply with the law, just as we have always done," she said.