How Unsafe Firestone Tires Took, And Shattered, People’s Lives


Posted on 7th January 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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USA Today put on a face on the victims of faulty Firestone tires by interviewing their surviving families. It makes for a compelling story.

Federal regulators claim that accidents involving Firestone tires caused 148 deaths and more than 525 injuries, according to USA Today.

In one of the cases described in the article, Eve Monson of Albuquerque, N.M., talks about her granddaughter, Lori Erickson. The 25-year-old and her husband Scott, 28, were killed on Memorial Day when the tread on a Firestone tire on her Ford Explorer came off. The vehicle rolled six five times.

Lori, who was five months pregnant, was killed in the accident, as was her husband.

Monson and Scott’s mother, Christine Demijohn, remain devastated by the deaths of their loved ones. Demijohn is angry at Ford and Firestone, because she believes they were aware of the problems with the tires. Her family has planted crosses at the spot where the accident took place.

Because of her agony, Monson is now on antidepressants. And she has dreams where her granddaughter shows up on her doorstep, saying she is finally back from a trip to Europe.

If that isn’t wish fulfillment, what is?   


Jury Awards $18 Million In Rollover Death Of Boy In Case Against Dealer Who Installed Recalled Tire


Posted on 30th August 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A California Superior Court jury has awarded $18 million to a Monrovia family who lost their 11-year-old son in an SUV rollover caused by the blowout of an aged, recalled Firestone Tire.

The jury found that Cerritos, Calif.-based American Tire Depot (ATD) was 85 percent negligent for installing a 12-year-old Firestone Radial ATX spare despite the fact that it had been recalled and Firestone inspection guidelines against using tires more than 10 years old.

Before the trial involving ATD, the Moreno family settled its suits against Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone Americas. 

All the litigation stemmed from an accident May 24, 2006. Willie Moreno was the rear seat passenger in a Ford Explorer driven by his brother, Ramon Moreno Jr., when the left rear tire experienced a catastrophic tread separation on California Highway 15 in Riverside County, Calif.  Willie, who was wearing his seatbelt, was partially ejected in the rollover crash and died of massive head injuries.  

“This tragedy could have been easily prevented,” attorney Roger Braugh, who represented the Moreno family, said in a prepared statement. “The facts of this case showed very clearly that American Tire Depot did not offer even a minimum of professional attention to tire safety.”  

ATD had argued at trial that it didn’t install the recalled tire on the Moreno’s SUV.

In January 2006, Ramon Moreno Sr. brought the family’s 1994 Ford Explorer to ATD to replace two rear tires.  ATD, a Firestone dealer, advised Moreno to rotate the spare, a recalled Firestone Radial ATX, onto the vehicle and sold him one new tire.  

The Moreno family, who purchased the Explorer used in 2005, was unaware that the Firestone spare was 12 years old and part of the massive 2000 Firestone recall.

At the time ATD installed the recalled tire, both Ford and Firestone had issued warnings against using aged tires.  Firestone’s October 2005 dealer Technical Bulletin advised against the use of tires older than 10 years, regardless of the tread depth.

Ford also issued a warning in 2005 advising against the use of tires older than six years.  Ford’s warning stated “Tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used. . .  You should replace the spare tire when you replace the other road tires due to the aging of the spare tire.”

The tire techs at ATD didn’t follow these guidelines, nor did they check to determine if the tire was recalled, the Moreno family’s attorney had argued at trial.  

ATD acknowledged that it provided no training for its tire technicians on tire aging or how to read the tire date, which is embedded in the alphanumeric DOT code molded on the tire sidewall.  The company also admitted that it lacked any policies or procedures to identify and capture recalled tires.

An ATD store manager testified that he would provide the same service again; a company representative claimed he would expect a technician to do “nothing” if presented with an aged, recalled tire.

“In my years as a trial attorney, I’ve never come across a company that said they didn’t do it, but if they did, they’d do it again,” attorney Jason Hoelscher, who also represented the Morenos, said in a prepared statement.  “When a company takes that position, a jury needs to evaluate that company’s practices.”

Since the fatal accident, the Moreno family has been a vocal advocate for better tire safety laws. Ramon Moreno Jr., Willie’s brother, testified before the California Assembly in 2009, urging the Legislature to pass a bill requiring tire dealers to disclose tire age.

“Now all we can hope for is that Willie’s death can result in some positive change so that other families don’t have to live through what we have lived through,” Moreno, who will continue to seek legislation, said in a prepared statement.  

Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, who has been advocating for expiration dates on tires and consumer disclosure on tire age, says that the verdict sends a strong message to the industry.

“Tire dealers and tire manufacturers must implement policies that ensure proper training to prevent aged and recalled tires from being installed on vehicles,” he said. “The failure to do so jeopardizes public safety.”