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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Firestone settles $1bn court case
Joel Rodriguez Jr., left, runs ahead of his mother Marisa Rodriguez
Joel Rodriguez Jr has recovered from the accident that paralysed his mother
The leading tyre maker Bridgestone/Firestone has settled a $1bn (691m) lawsuit in Texas.

The case was brought by the Rodriquez family because Mrs Marisa Rodriguez was left paralysed after her Ford Explorer crashed in Mexico.

Bridgestone/Firestone tyres have been linked to more than 20 deaths and 700 injuries, almost all of them involving Ford Explorers

Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone have blamed each other for the accidents, though following this settlement both companies have also settled out of court with people hurt in the car accidents.

First of many

The Rodriguez case was supposed to be the first of four hundred such legal actions against Bridgestone/Firestone, alleging the company supplied defective tyres to Ford.

The out of court settlement came after four days of jury deliberations. No figure has been disclosed, though sources involved in the negotiations said the amount was $7.5m.

The settlement is a clear sign that the tyre maker lost its nerve, according to Peter Brown of Automotive News magazine in Detroit.

"They would have been better off if they had settled this before it went to trial," Mr Brown said.

Moving forward

The Rodriguez family had already received $6m from Ford in a previous out of court settlement, said Mr Brown.

"Marisa is our main concern right now and I think we're going to get our lives back, not as it was before, but now we can begin to get over that," Dr Rodriguez said.

"Part of the purpose of our family was that no other person suffer what we have suffered the last 18 months. If only one person can be saved from this, our primary goal has been met".

The crash left Dr Rodriguez, his brother and his three-year-old sun injured, though his wife Marisa suffered the worst.

She was left brain-damaged and wheelchair-bound.

The BBC's Stephen Evans
"Firestone's lawyers were not formally accepting liability"
See also:

19 Jun 01 | Business
$1bn lawsuit filed against Firestone
01 Jun 01 | Business
Firestone calls for Ford probe
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