WASHINGTON (Nov. 21, 2003) — Pasadena, Calif.-based plaintiffs' attorney Joseph L. Lisoni has filed for a continuation in the complaint lodged against him by Bridgestone/Firestone that he violated the State Bar of California's Rules of Professional Conduct by making false statements about the tire maker and its products.
The State Bar notified Mr. Lisoni—lead attorney in a class-action lawsuit against Bridgestone/Firestone in California Superior Court—of BFS's charges Nov. 4.
Mr. Lisoni claims that Firestone Steeltex light truck tires are inherently defective and seeks a court-ordered recall of all Steeltex tires currently in circulation—approximately 30 million.
He told Tire Business he and his wife and law partner, Gail Lisoni, want to present full documentation of their actions to the Bar.
“I believe this is a political move on the part of Bridgestone/Firestone,” he said. Steven Weinberger, who is working with the Lisonis on the Firestone Steeltex class action, filed a response to the complaint by the Nov. 18 deadline.
But in the complaint filed by John K. Gamauf, Bridgestone/Firestone consumer replacement tire president, the company accused Mr. Lisoni of repeatedly exaggerating the number and content of complaints he'd received about Steeltex tires and also of repeatedly misrepresenting the company's actions.
Some of Mr. Lisoni's communications to potential Steeltex clients, according to the complaint, violated the Rules of Professional Conduct in that they did not clearly state they were communications offering legal services.
“He said the products are defective, and that's just not true,” a BFS spokesman said about the complaint. “NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has looked at these tires and found no defect trend.”
Meanwhile, Bridgestone/Firestone answered allegations made by a CBS News broadcast Nov. 7 that the company was shredding Steeltex tires that a California Superior Court judge had ordered to be kept as evidence in the class action. The report showed pictures of Steeltex tires waiting to be shredded at a recycling facility near the BFS plant in LaVergne, Tenn.
“Under the case management order in California, Firestone is required to preserve tires that are the subject of a legal claim,” BFS said in a prepared statement after the broadcast. “All of those tires have been preserved. The order specifically states that Bridgestone/Firestone can continue its tire disposal practices at all other facilities.”