The safety problems that plagued the Ford Explorer and Bridgestone/Firestone tires earlier in the decade have resurfaced in court, according to the Southeast Texas Record.
Ricardo Garcia died of injuries he sustained when the 1998 Explorer he was a passenger in rolled over multiple times. The driver, Ana Herrera, lost control of the vehicle on an Arkansas road. Herrera’s Explorer rolled several times when she attempted to return the vehicle to the road.
The suit, which Garcia’s relatives filed in the Miller County Circuit Court of Arkansas, blames the accident on the negligence of the driver, but says that she could have regained control of the Explorer if it had been properly designed.
Due to the SUV’s narrow track width and high center of gravity, the Explorer has “a propensity to roll over rather than slide out in an emergency situation,” court records state.
Bridgestone/Firestone is also partially responsible for the accident, according to the suit, because it complied with Ford’s request for lighter, less durable tires for its Explorers. The tires often resulted in dangerous tread separations.
The plaintiffs allege that Ford was aware of design flaws in its Explorers, including “problems with control, stability, roof crush, and occupant restraints,” but failed to make improvements because of expense.
The plaintiffs seek survival damages and have asked the court to impose punitive damages on the defendants for gross negligence as well.