INDIANAPOLIS-A federal judge has refused to order Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. to recall 3 million more Firestone tires.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who is presiding over the consolidation of more than 200 personal injury cases filed against BFS and Ford Motor Co., also ruled July 27 against ordering a recall of Ford Explorers, saying that authority to issue recalls resides with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, she did certify the claims, leaving the door open for plaintiffs' attorneys to appeal her decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Bridgestone/Firestone hailed the judge's decisions as ``a substantial victory for the company.''
``We agree with a majority of the judge's rulings,'' a spokeswoman said.
Tab Turner, a plaintiffs' attorney from Little Rock, Ark.-based Turner & Associates, called the case ``far from over,'' and said an appeal will be filed within the next 30 days.
In a separate ruling, the judge dismissed class-action claims of breach of warranty, deceptive trade practices and of unjust enrichment, according to Mr. Turner. She also threw out a claim by Ford Explorer and Firestone owners who had not suffered injury.
Don Barrett, a Lexington, Miss., attorney for the plaintiffs, also hailed the rulings-not so much for what Judge Barker threw out, but what she upheld, which makes the lawsuit more focused.
``The fact is, all of the money-damages part of our case is preserved, and done so in the language that makes it likely that she's going to certify the class,'' he said.
Mr. Barrett said the next step will be for the case to become certified as a class-action suit.
The rulings do not affect the other personal injury lawsuits under Judge Barker's jurisdiction.
Approximately 203 deaths and more than 700 injuries have been linked to Firestone tire failures, most of which were on Ford Explorers, according to NHTSA.