BROWNSVILLE, Texas-The family of a Texas woman who died in an accident involving a Ford Explorer was set on Sept. 5 to force Ford Motor Co. to face its first jury trial this week over allegations that faulty design of the Explorer led to tire failure, according to a Reuters report.
The auto maker has been holding settlement talks with the family of Margarita Gonzalez, who was killed last July after her 1998 Explorer rolled over when the tread separated on their Firestone Wilderness AT tires. Her son, Alfredo, was severely injured in the accident.
Ford has already settled about 200 lawsuits involving rollovers of its top-selling sport-utility vehicle and blowouts or tread separations of Firestone tires. ``We would prefer to settle,'' a spokeswoman for Ford told Reuters.
Ford won a court battle in April when a Texas jury found nothing wrong with the Explorer design, but that case did not involve Firestone tires. The decision stemmed from an April 1997 accident involving two men who died when their Explorer rolled over after veering off a road and onto a sloped shoulder in an evasive action to avoid crashing with another vehicle.
The Gonzalez case will focus on Ford and the Explorer's impact on the Firestone tires.