INDIANAPOLIS—A federal judge in Indianapolis should reject arguments by plaintiffs' attorneys to certify a class action on behalf of millions of potential non-injury claimants against Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and Ford Motor Co., Bridgestone/Firestone said in a prepared statement.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker heard arguments for and against the class action Nov. 16. The judge said she will rule on certification by the end of the year.
Attorneys favoring the class action claim that Bridgestone/Firestone colluded to violate consumer protection laws by putting allegedly defective Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires on the allegedly flawed Ford Explorer. They deliberately misled consumers about the safety of their products, the lawyers said, and thus caused financial loss to purchasers.
Bridgestone/Firestone, however, said such a class action would be “inefficient and unmanageable,” because the warranty cases cited by plaintiffs' attorneys “lack the common issues ordinarily required for class certification.”
More than 280 different tire populations are covered in the lawsuits, according to the Nashville-based tire maker. “Not only are these tires designed and manufactured differently at different plants and at different times, but they also are purchased in a variety of different states, in countless different stores under a variety of different circumstances,” it said. “Based on these vast differences alone, we believe these cases do not meet the federal requirements for class certification.”
Furthermore, “there is nothing in the law to remedy” that justifies creation of a national class, Bridgestone/Firestone argued.
“Virtually none of the plaintiffs in these cases have ever experienced a problem with these tires,” it said. “And, since owners of recalled tires have received brand-new tires free of charge to replace those that had already provided miles of failure-free service, the plaintiffs have experienced no financial loss.”
Ford officials couldn't be reached for comment.
The Indianapolis class action doesn't include the approximately 500 personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits alleging tread separations and vehicle rollovers involving Firestone tires and Ford Explorers. Some 271 people have died in accidents involving tread separations on Firestone tires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.