CHICAGO-Michelin North America Inc. and Cassidy Tire & Service have paid $500,000 and $3 million, respectively, to help settle a lawsuit stemming from a two-car accident on Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway in 1992 that resulted in the death of two teenage girls.
Ford Motor Co. and a Wheaton, Ill., Ford dealer also contributed to the settlement, paying $8 million and $10.5 million, respectively.
The cause of the accident was attributed to a collision at about 55 mph between a 1992 Ford Explorer driven by Nabil Boury and another car. The collision caused Mr. Boury to lose control, and the Explorer rolled over, throwing the four passengers from the SUV, according to court documents.
Mr. Boury's 13-year-old daughter Reena and another passenger, Suzenne Leder, 14, both later died from their injuries. Families of the dead and injured girls filed suit about a year later, alleging that the high center of gravity design of the Explorer played a large role in the accident, said Richard F. Burke Jr., the Chicago attorney who represented them.
Michelin and Cassidy Tire became involved because Mr. Boury had replaced the Explorer's original equipment tires with P235/75R15 Michelin all-season radials. This particular type of tire was ``expressly discouraged'' by Ford for use on the Explorer, Mr. Burke said, although the same size Michelin all-terrain type tire was approved.
The plaintiffs sued Packey Webb Ford in Wheaton and Cassidy Tire because they believed both played a role in the accident.
``This was not a tread separation, not a tire defect case,'' Mr. Burke said, although the plantiffs did sue Michelin. They accused the Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker of not adequately disseminating the information about the mismatch.
Packey Webb Ford and Cassidy Tire, however, were held more than liable. Both were accused of negligence in fitting the vehicle with all-season tires despite Ford's explicit warnings, according to the suit.
Ford's part of the settlement was announced at the end of July.
The other companies involved settled with the plaintiffs late last year.
Ford did not admit any guilt in the settlement, according to John Krivicich, one of the lawyers who represented Ford. Attorneys for Cassidy Tire and Michelin could not be reached for comment.