BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Oct. 3, 2000)—Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has appealed the unsealing of certain documents the tire maker submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in a product liability case.
Judge Anthony Alaimo unsealed some of the BFS documents, including adjustment data and the testimony of former Firestone tire builder Alan Hogan, on Sept. 28, but withheld the rest for a week to give BFS a chance to appeal. The Washington Post, CBS News and the Chicago Tribune Co.—which petitioned for the release of the documents—had to file a response to BFS´ appeal by the end of today, said James Franklin, the lead attorney in the lawsuit brought by Michael and Kim Van Etten.
The Van Ettens sued over the March 1997 death of their 19-year-old son, Danny, who was killed when a Firestone ATX tire on the Ford Explorer he was driving came apart and allegedly caused the vehicle to overturn.
Mr. Hogan´s testimony condemns manufacturing and quality control practices at the BFS plant in Wilson, N.C.; the tire adjustment data, compiled by expert witness Dennis Carlson, show that between 1990 and 1995 tread separation was cited in 66.4 percent of tires returned for adjustments at Wilson, and 59.6 percent of Firestone tires overall.
BFS disputes these documents, saying among other things that only 0.13 percent of all tires made at Wilson between 1991 and 1995 had tread separation adjustments.