Former Ford Motor Co. employees allege in a lawsuit that company supervisors ordered them to sell recalled Firestone tires, damaged vehicles and suspect vehicle parts to companies that would sell the merchandise to consumers.
Ford labeled the allegations in the lawsuit ``absurd'' and ``unfounded.''
The 75 plaintiffs are former employees of Environ Inc., a Ford subsidiary in Dearborn, Mich., which the auto maker sold to DST Industries Inc. in August 2000. Environ's business was to recycle Ford's test and prototype vehicles, shred and recycle tires and sell vehicle parts and entire vehicles to salvage yards.
The former employees allege that Environ violated Michigan public policy and federal statute in the disposal of damaged parts and vehicles. The suit was filed Dec. 12 in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit.
For example, the lawsuit contends that ``substantial numbers'' of recalled Firestone Wilderness tires ``were sold and sent to salvage yards, stores and other entities for sale to the public.''
The former employees also claim that 2,000 flood-damaged vehicles equipped with recalled Firestone Wilderness tires and assembled at Ford's Louisville, Ky., plant ``were released for sale to consumers.'' The plant assembles the Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer.
The lawsuit also alleges that experimental and prototype parts, including safety-related parts, were sold to salvage yards and businesses that would re-sell the merchandise to consumers.
Ford closed Environ after the firm lost nearly 60 percent of its contracts to lower-cost competitors.