Verbal Settlement in Firestone Suit


Monday, October 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas (AP) — Relatives of a Texas couple who died after a tire blew out on their sport-utility vehicle have reached a verbal settlement with Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. in the first product liability lawsuit scheduled for trial since the company's August tire recall.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Ryan Anthony Guillen, 21, and his sister, Kimberly Guillen, 18, sued the tire manufacturer last November after their mother and stepfather were killed when their Ford Explorer crashed May 30, 1999.

Nidia and Patricio Leal died when a Firestone tire unraveled, police said, sending the vehicle skidding into a ditch in far South Texas.

Robert J. Patterson, a lawyer for the siblings, confirmed late Sunday that a verbal settlement was reached.

``We finalized it Friday, although it's just verbal at this point,'' he said from his home in Corpus Christi. ``I really can't talk about the details but we've been talking for a while.''

Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone/Firestone spokeswoman Jill Bratina confirmed an agreement was reached but declined further comment.

Patterson said he expected the settlement to be formally announced sometime this week.

Trial was set to begin Nov. 13 in Rio Grande City, on the Mexican border about 250 miles south of San Antonio.

In August, Bridgestone/Firestone recalled 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires. The tires are being investigated over their roles in 119 deaths and 500 injuries in the United States. Firestone tires have also been implicated in 50 deaths elsewhere.

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On the Net:

Plaintiffs' attorneys: http://www.unsafetires.com

Bridgestone/Firestone: http://www.bridgestone-firestone.com

Ford Motor Co.: http://www.ford.com

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov